Urgent note to Deaf Gahan: More evidence that street design = street safety = social justice, even more so than a doggie fun park.


At this late date, it can’t be denied that street safety in New Albany relies on one factor, and one factor alone, to the exclusion of all others.

In short, someone in a position of municipal authority just might consider street safety for all users beyond the same old auto-centric boilerplate, naturally doing so piecemeal for one singular stretch of roadway, though never as an organic citywide whole, so long as the 80-20 federal matching funds come through.

Until then, we cross our fingers and wade into the interstate-rated traffic lanes, as pedestrians have been doing along Grant Line Road for the past 30 years.

Grant Line Pedway Project in New Albany moving forward (Beilman; N and T)

It has taken five years and a second Gahan administration for the ruling City Hall junta to even begin making faint, barely detectable gurgling sounds about public safety in this context.

Consequently, we must not ever forget that in New Albany, public safety has consistently come second or worse, forever submerged behind Gahan’s bright, shiny baubles.

New parks and recreation facilities were prioritized, and came first. Doggie exercise was prioritized, and came first. The Farmers Market was prioritized, and came first. Subsidized luxury housing and initiatives to demolish public (read: affordable) housing units were prioritized, and came or is coming first.

In fact, the word “oblivious” has met its match in Gahan. Oblivious surrenders, and says go ahead, shoot me now. Never has a New Albany mayor remained so stubbornly aloof from the reality of everyday life in this city. Agoraphobia is a crippling affliction; too bad the rest of us must pay for it.

ON THE AVENUES: For New Albany’s Person of the Year, the timeless words of Mother Jones: “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.”

Gahan’s grandiosely termed Downtown Street Grid Improvement Project might yield a bare minimum return on investment by restoring two-way streets, but otherwise it’s just another of his mock Potemkin façades, dedicated to garnering as much campaign finance lubrication as possible from the usual suspects in engineering and construction without making truly transformative changes to the grid.

It’s why the forever uncomprehending Gahan stripped Jeff Speck’s plan of its most potentially useful recommendations, and it’s why we’ll have to add them back as we’re able, with or without City Hall’s permission.

Street safety?

Clearly it’s a social justice issue, not a campaign finance issue. Unfortunately for New Albanians, if “bad street design is disproportionately impacting historically marginalized groups in America,” then Gahan’s instinctive response is to ship the marginalized elsewhere, not fix the problem.

But there’s a funny part to all this.

Gahan thinks he’s a Democrat. Cue the laugh track, at least until you try to cross the street outside.

The Hidden Inequality Of America’s Street Design, by Diana Budds (Co.Design)

New data shows that pedestrians in the U.S. are more likely to die if they’re poor, a person of color, uninsured, or old.

Urban design has a long history of perpetuating racial and economic inequality, and the burden of bad streets is still being disproportionately borne by underserved populations. According to a new report, pedestrians in the United States have a higher risk of being killed by cars if they’re people of color, aged 65 or older, uninsured, or from a low-income household.

The report, called “Dangerous by Design 2016,” is authored by the National Complete Streets Coalition, a working group within the nonprofit Smart Growth America, which supports socially equitable, environmentally responsible, and economically healthy urban design strategies. The report focuses on designing streets for multi-modal transportation, and ranks every state and more than 100 major metropolitan areas by what it calls the Pedestrian Danger Index, or PDI, which assesses the likelihood of a car hitting a pedestrian by comparing the rate of pedestrian deaths in an area to the rate of people who walk to work. (SGA calls this the best available measure of how many people are likely to be out walking every day.)

“The leading goal is equity in implementation for all avenues of transportation,” says Emiko Atherton, director of the National Complete Streets Coalition. “It really is about not only treating everyone equitably, but also encouraging departments of transportation to focus on the most underserved.”

Put simply: Bad street design is disproportionately impacting historically marginalized groups in America.