We should all work together to make our streets safe, particularly in places where people on foot cross them. Unfortunately, for the last several decades, the way our country's streets have been designed is to engineer them so that people in cars are able to drive significantly above the posted speed limit, and to remove anything in the roadway that could be impacted while they do so. Lanes are wider, street-side plantings are limited, the turning radius of corners has become very large so people can drive faster around the corner, and so on. Enforcement of speeding on city streets has gone way down too. As a society we have all come to accept that people dying on our roads is just an expected cost of moving people and goods at maximum speed through our cities and states. When we hear of a person walking getting hit by a person driving a car we think that the person walking must be at least partly at fault because we want to feel safe when we walk and we don't want to think that it could easily happen to us. Similarly, we think that we drive a car safely and don't want to think that we could just as easily be the person driving in one of these collisions.
The streets are ours. It is up to us decide whether we want them to be safe places or not. Our transportation and parking space is the largest slice of public land in our cities. We can decide if we want to accept deaths and injuries of the people using this space or if we want to make it safe for all of us. Excerpted from a 3/10/15 letter to the editor in the Kirkland Reporter