Ask Mayor Slay, “What’s the plan for preventing crash injuries and deaths?”
Last year there were 21 pedestrian crash deaths on St. Louis streets – the highest total in 30 years of MoDOT records. Crashes also claimed the lives of one cyclist and 31 people in vehicles. In January, Trailnet’s executive director wrote to Mayor Slay about the City’s growing traffic violence and requested a meeting to discuss some solutions.
Last month the meeting at City Hall took place, though Mayor Slay did not attend. The Mayor’s Office declined Trailnet’s recommendation to implement a Vision Zero strategy, which more than 10 US cities have done in the past several years. The City said “no” to Vision Zero, suggesting it would be an empty promise to the public because it lacks the money for implementation. Trailnet responded by saying the City of St. Louis must have an action plan for preventing crash deaths and serious injuries, and progress should be clearly articulated to residents. The Mayor’s Office agreed to create an action plan, but we have no commitment as to when such a plan will be forthcoming.
So, we’re asking, “what’s the plan?” for addressing this public safety issue. Trailnet urges all concerned about the safety of those who walk, bike, and drive in St. Louis to ask City Hall this question. Tweet your concerns to @MayorSlay using #WhatsThePlan? or email firstname.lastname@example.org and copy Trailnet. Let the Slay administration know that traffic deaths are preventable, not inevitable, and it’s time to act.
The speed cushion: one of many great traffic calming tools
The Plan4Health project has proven to be an asset in creating important conversations around traffic calming. It has also helped the Healthy Eating Active Living Partnership strengthen relationships with other stakeholders in the St. Louis region.
Among other opportunities, the Plan4Health project lead to a renewed connection between Trailnet and local bicycle advocate Martin Pion. Martin has been working hard to create dialogue around effective measures for traffic calming. He was very generous in allowing Trailnet to use his temporary speed cushion at one of our four traffic calming demonstrations.
Speed cushions are similar to speed humps, but they have a smaller surface area and can be offset with wheel cutouts, allowing larger vehicles (like emergency vehicles) to pass through without reducing their speed.
Trailnet thanks Martin for the donation of his speed cushion and for sharing his resources with us. To learn more about Martin’s work please read this article he posted on traffic calming.
Crash. Not Accident.
Word choice matters. The words “Crash” and “Accident” are often used to describe the same event, but in reality each word conjures up very different images. An “accident” just happens. Accidents can’t be reasonably predicted or avoided. A “crash,” on the other hand, is the result of choices made and risks disregarded. Crashes don’t just happen; somebody is at fault in a crash.
A majority of fatal road crashes are caused by intoxicated, speeding, distracted, or careless motorists. They are NOT just unfortunate events. The victims were NOT simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Deadly crashes in the St. Louis region this year are too numerous to list here. They include the January crash precipitated by Hazelwood motorist William Goad, who was driving more than twice the speed limit on Gallatin Lane in Bridgeton when he struck and killed Bridgeton resident Duane Johnson, who was riding his bicycle. That was no accident. More recently, in September, the 18th pedestrian fatality in the City of St. Louis this year occurred when a hit and run driver sped through St. Louis’ Fairground Park on a Sunday afternoon and killed Nathaniel Thomas, 29, as he crossed the street. That was no accident.
Trailnet, and many other transportation advocates, want to change how we talk about traffic collisions in this country. When one motorized vehicle careens into another, or turns into an oncoming cyclist, or rounds a corner right into a pedestrian — call it a “crash,” not an “accident.” Words matter, and the way car crashes are framed has a powerful effect on how they are perceived. If thousands of preventable traffic injuries and deaths per year are described as accidental, why bother with thorough investigations to uncover root causes and determine potential solutions?
Accident or Crash? Our choice of words can educate the public, set accurate expectations, contribute to improved road safety, and ultimately help save lives. Changing our language is one of the first steps to realizing Vision Zero in St. Louis.