Dying in the Streets

Poorly designed freeway interchanges aren’t the only things costing us blood and money; everyday streets do it as well.

According to KSL, a 15-year-old boy was killed this morning in Salt Lake when he was hit by a truck. Apparently it was dark and wet and the truck failed to yield to the boy. It happened in the intersection of 900 W and 600 N.

A 15-year-old boy was killed Wednesday in this intersection.

Alarmingly, it was the second day in a row that a teenage pedestrian was hit by a vehicle. Even worse, authorities apparently think it’s inevitable that children will die from cars on the street:

“Unfortunately it tends to happen in the fall when the weather changes. The time change hasn’t happened yet, so when the kids are walking to school it’s still dark, there’s a lot of traffic on the road, people going to work, and it can be very difficult to see people,” [Salt Lake City Police Lt. Brian] Purvis said.

Killing children is not inevitable, however, as reiterated by Streetsblog:

Just a few generations ago, streets were places of commerce and play, places to socialize, places where public life happened. The author of the Chicago-based Get Around Blog just finished reading Peter Norton’s book, Fighting Traffic, which outlines in fascinating-yet-depressing detail how the rise of the automobile rudely interrupted this whole way of life.

In other words, for most of human history streets were shared spaces. In recent generations, however, we’ve pushed “pedestrians” — a word that itself is a modern construction — to “left over” space. In that light, it’s a wonder that these teenagers are walking to school in the first place.

Sadly, the circumstances of these accidents are all too predictable as well. When I zoomed in to Google’s street view of the most recent accident site, I found that, sure enough, it’s a big, wide, stroad-ish space:

At this point in the intersection, one side of the street doesn’t even have a sidewalk.

Why is this street so wide?

Not only are their five lanes for cars here, but the lanes themselves are unnecessarily wide, which of course leads to speeding.

The site of Tuesday’s accident is similar, and maybe even worse.

It seems almost too easy or too obvious to point out that these places are stroads that are openly antagonistic to anything but speeding vehicles. But that is the case, sadly.

Ultimately, however, the point is that these dangerous roads are neither inevitable nor necessary. Child deaths from speeding cars are also not necessary. But until authorities begin to recognize that there are alternatives to “increasing capacity” and designing for cars we should expect kids to keep dying.

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2 Comments

Filed under commuting, driving

2 responses to “Dying in the Streets

  1. Pingback: Bad Street Design Requires Constant Intervention | (pro(vo)cation)

  2. Pingback: Could Better Design Have Saved A Teacher | (pro(vo)cation)

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