autoAmerican Anarchy

Time for another autoAmerican Anarchy update. So much carnage, so little time.

• Credit alert drivers for ripping the lid off the most insidious conspiracy since the Trilateral Commission schemed to take over the world. Opposing Complete Streets policies in auto-centric Alexandria, Va, motorists Jack Sullivan noted “There is a fanatic minority who want to get people out of cars, lower the speed limits and reduce the size of roads. They are being heard in the towers of power.” For the record, what “they” want folks in the power towers to hear is this: Please stop killing us with your cars.

• Not to worry, though, the Complete Streets conspiracists are losing in dribs and drabs. In Providence, R.I, newly installed bike lanes were removed after drivers complained about them. “Making our City streets safe and accessible to all is one of my top priorities,” said Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan. However, “We need to balance all new initiatives with the needs of the surrounding community, particularly when it is a matter of public safety.” Translation: Saving cyclists is fine, but not if it means drivers must slow down.

• Which is not to say that motorists can get away with anything in autoAmerica. A guy who drove his car through a suburban Chicago shopping mall has been charged with terrorism. “Chaos ensued among the patrons of the mall. Hysterical patrons were running and jumping in attempts to evade the vehicle’s path. Stores were locking their gates and sheltering people in the rear of stores for safety purposes,” prosecutor Annalee McGlone said. Turns out the freedom to shop is almost as sacrosanct as the freedom to drive.

• Nobody’s been charged with auto-terrorism in Denver, however, despite the fact that more than 20 pedestrians have been killed or injured by hit-and-run- drivers so far this year. The carnage, Reports Westworld adds “another layer to concerns about the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders on metro streets amid rising traffic volume and other infrastructure stressors.”

• Also in Denver, Gazette columnist Mike Rosen duly expressed his condolences over the death of a woman cyclist who was killed by a dump truck. Then he blew the whistle on the local bicycle community’s “aggressive agenda,” writing that “Bicycles have their place but unless cyclists have a death-wish they should realize commuting to work on a bicycle in heavy rush hour traffic isn’t wise…And finding that the driver was at fault is little consolation.” Translation: She pretty much got what she deserved.

• But let’s not, um, dump on Rosen. Streetsblog USA has compiled an impressive list of media mavens who routinely go out of their way to excuse the deadly behavior of drivers. “Yes, local newspapers are still force-feeding us the myth of the American open road.”

• In Sacramento, motorist Nicholas Soller was arrested after he illegally parked in a bike lane….and then beat up a cyclists who complained about it. “Police say Soller tailed the cyclist in a high-traffic area and crashed into him before getting out of his car to continue a physical assault,” reports CBS Sacramento. Temper Nick.

• Elsewhere on the Road Rage Front, a 13-year old boy in Greenville, S.C. was severely injured after being hit by a car while walking his sister to the bus stop. The offending motorists reportedly lost control of his vehicle while engaged in aggressive driving match with another vehicle. “If you start to feel your temper flare, and you start to get mad, the best advise that we can give is pull off on the side of the road, take a deep breath, calm down, and then get back in the road to drive,” Greenville PD. Lt. Alan Johnson said. “If you don’t and you get into a rage situation, something like this can happen, or worse, you can kill somebody.”

• Driving has been banned on Michigan’s Mackinac Island for half a century. But that didn’t stop Vice President Mike Pence from barreling across the island in an 8-car motorcade recently to deliver a speech. “Plenty of actual presidents have visited sans cars,” Julia Pulver tweeted. “It’s literally an island, you can very easily control who’s there for this event. No excuses. This didn’t have to happen, but it did, because they could.” Executive privilege don’t you know.

• While auto-related fatalities overall are decreasing, cycling deaths have increased by 25 percent since 2010. “The major causes of cyclist deaths are motor vehicle crashes, and hit-and-runs and driver inattentiveness are unfortunately the most common factors,” reports vice.com. One way “to deter bicyclist fatalities is to start holding drivers responsible when they cause the accident, especially in cases of a hit-and-run.” Yeah, like that’s gonna happen in autoAmerica.

• Speaking of breaking records, deaths from red-light running has reached a 10-year high, according to the American Automobile Association. “This is at least two people killed every day at the hands of drivers blowing through red lights,” Jake Nelson, director of traffic safety advocacy and research for AAA, told USA Today. This hasn’t stopped Texas and at least 14 other states from banning cameras that can catch red light runners in the act.

• In Michigan, three Amish siblings were killed and another critically injured when a motorists ran into their horse-drawn buggy. This following a eerily similar collision in June in which three other Amish siblings died. “There have been other accidents this summer in which Amish buggy passengers were injured,” reports USA Today. “In July, six children were injured in a vehicle-buggy crash in Mecosta County, and in August, four members of a family were injured after a buggy-vehicle crash near Hillsdale.”

• In Orange, Tex., 19-year-old Harley Joe Morgan and 20-year-old Rhiannon Boudreaux Morgan got married, climbed into their car to start the honeymoon – and were promptly killed in a collision with a pickup truck. “Justice of the Peace Joy Dubose-Simonton, who performed the wedding, attended their bodies as coroner,” noted USA Today.

• And finally, for those who had hoped that technology would save us from ourselves, the Wall Street Journal reports that safety features in some new automobiles intended to protect pedestrians don’t really work all that well all the time. Especially a night. ““Pedestrian fatalities are really becoming a crisis,” Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering, told the Journal. The newspaper cautions “While such pedestrian-detection systems have the potential to save lives, drivers shouldn’t become overly reliant on them to prevent accidents…”

Author: floridavelocipede

A sometime journalist who used to string words together for a living before I retired to run a non-profit cycle touring organization that will henceforth go unnamed, as I have subsequently retired from that career as well. I write a bi-monthly column, theater reviews and an occasional magazine piece for my old newspaper. If I still had a business card it would read: Ron Cunningham: Trained Observer Of The Human Condition. Because like The Donald, you know, ego.

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