Accomplice to the crime

Correction: An earlier version of this blog stated that the section of South Main Street where a cyclist was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Monday was controlled by the Florida Department of Transportation. That is incorrect: That section of North Main Street is owned by Alachua County. I apologize for the error.

As of this writing we do not know who it was that killed a cyclist on S. Main Street and then fled the scene of the crime. Death by hit-and-run must surely count as manslaughter.

But make no mistake. Without even the need for further investigation we already know who were the killer’s accomplices.

We are all accomplices.

We taxpayers who finance the transportation agencies that hire traffic engineers who design our streets and roads with the primary purpose of moving as many cars as quickly and as efficiently as possible…with little or no regard for the safety of cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable users.

THE TWO LIVES OF SOUTH MAIN STREET

The length of South Main Street, From University Avenue to SW 16th Ave. is a textbook example of how to design a city street that slows (but not stops) cars in order to protect the lives of pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and other vulnerable users.

That section was designed and built by the City of Gainesville.

Conversely, the length of South Main Street from SW 16th to Williston Road is a textbook example of a “stroad.” The main function of a stroad is to facilitate the fast and efficient movement of cars with little or no regard for the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other living things.

That section of North Main comes under the jurisdiction of Alachua County.

Guess on which section of South Main Street Gainesville’s latest bicycle fatality occurred?

Certainly not the city-designed section of South Main Street. It was expressly designed to save lives, not put them in jeopardy for the sake of traffic flow.

Which raises an important question? Why do we, as a society, intentionally put human lives at risk for the sake of facilitating traffic flow?

The answer is obvious: We know that the hit-and-run driver, if ever apprehended, can be held accountable for his or her crime.

But thanks to “sovereign immunity,” government transportation agencies are never held accountable, let alone culpable, for the thousands of American lives lost every year on urban stroads that are literally “dangerous by design.”

We call that autoAmerican anarchy. And, really, there ought to be a law.

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