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Old 03-14-14, 02:47 PM   #1
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Murder Machines: Why Cars Will Kill 30,000 Americans This Year

Ever wonder why we accept this slaughter? It hasn't always been this way.

Murder Machines: Why Cars Will Kill 30,000 Americans This Year
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Old 03-14-14, 02:58 PM   #2
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Old 03-14-14, 03:57 PM   #3
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Wow, excellent read... Starting with how pedestrians once ruled the streets and how cars were considered an inconvenient extravagance... right up to the first laws that required peds to cross at intersections in 1927... and how cars, while still an inefficient and extravagant form of transportation "taking up to 10 times the space as a trolley rider" were given "priority over people" which lead to the situation we have today.

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Like in the 1920s, these infrastructure changes really start with a new understanding of acceptable street behavior. “That battle for street access of the 1910s and ’20s, while there was a definite winner, it never really ended,” says Norton. “It’s a bit like the street became an occupied country, and you have a resistance movement. There have always been pedestrians who are like, ‘To hell with you, I’m crossing anyway.’

“The people who really get it today, in 2014, know that the battle isn’t to change rules or put in signs or paint things on the pavement,” Norton continues. “The real battle is for people’s minds, and this mental model of what a street is for. There’s a wonderful slogan used by some bicyclists that says, ‘We are traffic.’ It reveals the fact that at some point, we decided that somebody on a bike or on foot is not traffic, but an obstruction to traffic. And if you look around, you’ll see a hundred other ways in which that message gets across. That’s the main obstacle for people who imagine alternatives—and it’s very much something in the mind.”
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Old 03-14-14, 04:08 PM   #4
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Yes, that was the far far past. We live in 2014 though, its a different world today, and the general population has different expectation. rehashing from the late 1800 serves no modern purpose. Thats not to say we are not too accepting of death and damage caused by motor vehicles, but what we need is solutions that will work and be acceptable in 2014. Although the US is a representative republic, there is still some element of 95% of the road users get their way, regardless of the rights of the minority users. So what we need is solutions that will be acceptable to voters, enforceable by law enforcement, and safe for cyclists and pedestrians.
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Old 03-14-14, 04:19 PM   #5
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Ya know what used to be different BITD? Pretty much everything.
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Old 03-14-14, 04:23 PM   #6
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Well for sure one thing thats really different is that cyclists are no where near as likely to slip and crash in horse crap.
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Old 03-14-14, 04:26 PM   #7
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With accident rates and fatalities at an all-time low, this is a dubious time to be making the argument that cars are "murder machines". When five times as many were being killed in the past as today, the public generally thought the utility of the car was still worth the risk; now we're almost at the point of diminished returns where further increases in safety are being offset by people engaging in more risky behavior because they feel invulnerable in a modern car. Given the utility that they provide, a modern car is remarkably safe. And while other vehicles are a huge risk to bicycles and pedestrians, these risks also seem on a general downward decline. And contrary to popular belief, more bicyclist are hurt each year due to their own negligence than due to accidents that are the fault of car drivers.

If you're objective in this argument is to outlaw cars as just too dangerous, then there is no reason bicycles couldn't come under the same microscope.



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Old 03-14-14, 04:45 PM   #8
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Writing something... and calling it history... doesn't make it historically accurate.

In the small town where I grew up we had a historical society (most towns, and cities do). They provide a more accurate version of what happened locally and how that related to the state, national, and global picture.

In most towns and cities across America the early roads where built (paved) with bricks. Because that is what the railroads required. Rain and snow turned Americas dirt and gravel streets into waist deep mud holes. Goods shipped by rail were held up at stations (most often with a lack of storage space). So railroads refused expand to communities without a means to distribute the goods that railroad commerce provided.

The early streets were built.... not for cars or people (or even bicycles as some say). Most of the early roads across America were to move food and fuel.
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Old 03-14-14, 04:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
With accident rates and fatalities at an all-time low, this is a dubious time to be making the argument that cars are "murder machines". When five times as many were being killed in the past as today, the public generally thought the utility of the car was still worth the risk; now we're almost at the point of diminished returns where further increases in safety are being offset by people engaging in more risky behavior because they feel invulnerable in a modern car. Given the utility that they provide, a modern car is remarkably safe. And while other vehicles are a huge risk to bicycles and pedestrians, these risks also seem on a general downward decline. And contrary to popular belief, more bicyclist are hurt each year due to their own negligence than due to accidents that are the fault of car drivers.

If you're objective in this argument is to outlaw cars as just too dangerous, then there is no reason bicycles couldn't come under the same microscope.

- Mark
Couple of interesting statements in your comments...

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more bicyclist are hurt each year due to their own negligence than due to accidents that are the fault of car drivers.
True, but more cyclists are KILLED each year due to collisions with motorists.

And then there is this doozy...

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If you're objective in this argument is to outlaw cars as just too dangerous, then there is no reason bicycles couldn't come under the same microscope.
Sure, let me know when cyclists start killing others in the same numbers as car drivers... as the latest very public example, imagine just how many people would be killed and injured if the the wayward driver at South by Southwest was driving a bicycle. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/14/us...w&rref=us&_r=0

23 people were injured by one motorist... do you really think we need to outlaw bicycles for their danger to others?
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Old 03-14-14, 04:51 PM   #10
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Dave that's really interesting, I have never seen that explanation for the growth of brick paving in small towns. Makes sense, thanks
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Old 03-14-14, 06:56 PM   #11
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Wasn't 2009 when the American economy imploded and people didn't have jobs to drive to anymore? Would be interesting to see if that was the start of a trend or a statistical aberration.
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Old 03-14-14, 07:28 PM   #12
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Wasn't 2009 when the American economy imploded and people didn't have jobs to drive to anymore? Would be interesting to see if that was the start of a trend or a statistical aberration.
More like 2007, took a while for the full effects to be felt though
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Old 03-15-14, 12:23 AM   #13
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Hearts and Minds

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/arti...rder-machines/

I thought this was pretty interesting, and reminded me that effective propaganda is sometimes even more important than actual ideas. In 1910, cars were regarded as a dangerous threat in urban areas. By 1930, thanks to a great deal of effort and money supplied by the auto and oil industries, walking across the street without signals or other official consent was considered a punishable act. Blame was effectively shifted from the the perpetrators to the victims of a new technology. Bicycle advocates should take notes; there should be a way to move the paradigm in the opposite direction.

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Old 03-15-14, 12:46 AM   #14
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Yes, that was the far far past. We live in 2014 though, its a different world today, and the general population has different expectation. rehashing from the late 1800 serves no modern purpose. Thats not to say we are not too accepting of death and damage caused by motor vehicles, but what we need is solutions that will work and be acceptable in 2014. Although the US is a representative republic, there is still some element of 95% of the road users get their way, regardless of the rights of the minority users. So what we need is solutions that will be acceptable to voters, enforceable by law enforcement, and safe for cyclists and pedestrians.
Why to pro car dependence people always overstate the percentage of Americans who (ab)use cars as their primary means of transportation? Pretending 95% of Americans are addicted to cars does not, will not, and never has, make it true.

And by the way, most of the article dealt with the twentieth century, not the 1800s. This car-dependence thing isn't that old. As recently as the '60s, many (most?) households had one or no cars, and an awful lot of folks who were alive in the '60s are still around. Not to worry, though. The Millennials are literally voting with their feet and moving beyond the car. The folks, mostly old, who are terminally addicted to cars may find a big surprise as these youngsters come of age politically and take away the keys.
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Old 03-15-14, 01:22 AM   #15
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I thought it was more like 50,000?
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Old 03-15-14, 02:16 AM   #16
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Why to pro car dependence people always overstate the percentage of Americans who (ab)use cars as their primary means of transportation? Pretending 95% of Americans are addicted to cars does not, will not, and never has, make it true.

And by the way, most of the article dealt with the twentieth century, not the 1800s. This car-dependence thing isn't that old. As recently as the '60s, many (most?) households had one or no cars, and an awful lot of folks who were alive in the '60s are still around. Not to worry, though. The Millennials are literally voting with their feet and moving beyond the car. The folks, mostly old, who are terminally addicted to cars may find a big surprise as these youngsters come of age politically and take away the keys.
your confusing your personal ideologies with reality. Personal transportation will continue to evolve in form and increase in use unless civilization devolves.
And before you wag your finger at Americans for being "addicted to automobiles" you should do a little research, you may be surprised. We don't lead in per capita ownership, the US ranks 3rd in total motor vehicles, 25th in passenger cars. In most of the world the percentage its growing, but in the us its on the decline.

For the record, I hate cars and don't own one.
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Old 03-15-14, 05:57 AM   #17
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And before you wag your finger at Americans for being "addicted to automobiles" you should do a little research, you may be surprised. We don't lead in per capita ownership, the US ranks 3rd in total motor vehicles, 25th in passenger cars. In most of the world the percentage its growing, but in the us its on the decline.
The numbers vary considerably, depending on source. Also, you are including countries like Luxemborg in your statistics; hardly comparable to the U.S.
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Old 03-15-14, 07:04 AM   #18
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Super long article but worth the read.

It poses an interesting "chicken or the egg" question about culture and infrastructure. I, for one, would be ok if we stopped referring to automobile collisions as 'accidents' and started calling distracted driving 'negligent operation of a vehicle.'


At one point in the article there's reference about if somebody wants to drive to a location they should be permitted to do so. I agree with that but I think that kind of thinking is being now shifted towards walking, cycling, and alternate transportation. I get the feeling most of us don't want to outlaw the car, but instead want a safe, convenient choice to enjoy a lifestyle independent of them.
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Old 03-15-14, 07:16 AM   #19
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I don't want to outlaw automobiles, but I would like to see some more accountability, as GodsBassist suggests. If you kill someone while driving, and you did something illegal or unlawful when you did it, you need to be held responsible. Cars killing ppl on the sidewalk, with no citations, let alone jail time. Unbelievable.

I'd also like to see the auto industry paying its own way. Beyond the direct and indirect oil subsidies, the outrageous Big 3 bailout, and the endless road-widening projects that occur in my neck of the woods, there ought to be some sort of tax levied on the CO2 output and the use of antifreeze, brake fluid, and other nasties that are associated with running an auto. For the record, I'd gladly pay that on my truck, and I'd be willing to pay an equitably scaled-down version for the #2 grease and chain lube I use on my bikes.
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Old 03-15-14, 07:17 AM   #20
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ps- Very interesting about the perspective switch as it relates to early motor vehicle laws and how many of these laws were, in fact, novel pedestrian laws.
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Old 03-15-14, 07:30 AM   #21
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Yes, that was the far far past. We live in 2014 though, its a different world today, and the general population has different expectation.
General population has also tripled since the early 20th century...
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Old 03-15-14, 07:47 AM   #22
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Also lot more aviation related fatalities nowadays compared to 100 years ago. I don't have the numbers but I suspect horse/carriage fatalities are way down.
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Old 03-15-14, 10:27 AM   #23
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The numbers vary considerably, depending on source. Also, you are including countries like Luxemborg in your statistics; hardly comparable to the U.S.
When going by percentage of the per capita, the size of the country is irrelevant. The statistics do vary by source and definition, but it doesn't change the fact that the US once again isn't as "evil" as some want or need it to be to justify their sense of moral superiority.
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Old 03-15-14, 11:03 AM   #24
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Ok bcarfree, I did estimate my claim that 95% of the road users (measured my my own observation of traffic in my neighborhood,but on reassessment I think its more like 99% of the traffic in my area is cars. Whats your estimate and or motor vehicle vrs non-motorvehicle traffic on average? But if its 85, 90, 95, the point is that even in a representative republic the majority usually gets there way, as opposed to a pure democracy where the majority always get there way. And the ancient history of road development will not change that, in fact it's not material to any modern discussion of roadway rights and responsibilities.
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Old 03-15-14, 11:21 AM   #25
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the ancient history of road development will not change that, in fact it's not material to any modern discussion of roadway rights and responsibilities.
This thread has little to do with any modern discussion of roadway rights and responsibilities, and nothing to do with bicycling advocacy or safety, but rather is just ranting and over-the-top rhetoric against the individual use of motorized vehicles in the U.S.
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