Traffic calming and street safety: “The change needs to come from the highest levels of leadership all the way down the chain,” though not in #OurNA.


It’s been almost a year, and neither Jeff Gahan nor any of the posturing luminaries among his chortling pack of frat boy subalterns has bothered to publicly acknowledge the senseless death of a woman who was just trying to cross the street.

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.”

Chloe Allen’s passing must not be in vain. In years to come, principled citizens of this city – the ones for whom conscience isn’t a high school vocabulary term to be discarded once they’re elected to office – must forcibly insist that her memory be honored, nay, overtly exploited for the sake of a worthwhile agenda.

Specifically, an agenda of public safety in this city. Among other aspects, this public safety agenda reorders auto-centrism by reimagining our streets as community spaces, not mere transit routes. This agenda urges a genuine commitment to public safety by design, for all users, not drivers only. This public safety agenda empowers from the grassroots up, not the TIF bond down.

Apart from its crass inability to display genuine human decency — they don’t even pretend well — Team Gahan is the very last organism to enlist in any project involving reimagination.

That’s because there’s no imagination in those craniums to begin with.

So, drivers: You’re terribly inconvenienced by traffic calming, two-way streets and narrowed traffic lanes?

Here’s an idea: Piss off.

Gahan’s merry band of vandals won’t say it, so other among us must do so, instead. When Dear Leader is finished with the cleansing of public housing dwellers, how about a Declaration of Pedestrian Rights?

Or was he planning on demolishing pedestrians, too?

Traffic Engineers’ Epic Fail, by Jon Larsen (Strong Towns)

… What’s the solution? There are numerous other “traffic calming” treatments that could be added to this street, none of which really cost that much, especially when compared to the precious young lives that are at stake. If we can afford to add new streets and highways, we can afford to fix our existing streets first. You can start with a temporary implementation in your city to spark people’s imagination.

That said, the best, most lasting solution is to narrow the street until it’s uncomfortable to drive fast. There have been some previous Strong Towns posts on the virtues of narrow streets. The benefits go well beyond safety, as articulated in “Narrow Streets do More with Less,” and “Some Thoughts on Narrow Streets.”

I’m calling out my entire profession. This is a systemic issue, a tragic case of groupthink gone wrong. The change needs to come from the highest levels of leadership all the way down the chain. Just as important, change needs to come from policy makers (i.e. elected officials) who make it crystal clear that safety is more important than speed. The change needs to come from an educated public that understands this tradeoff and is OK with it. Until that happens, the tragedies will continue.