Until the day when all cars are driverless, the interaction between cars and pedestrians in the urban environment will be an issue.
In the United States, as the total number of traffic fatalities fell nearly 25 percent, from 43,005 in 2002 to 32,367 in 2011, according to statistics [pdf] from the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released late last year, the number of pedestrian deaths, as a percentage of all traffic fatalities, have been steadily rising from 11 percent in 2002 to 14 percent in 2011.
From San Jose to Las Vegas to New York City, 2013 was one of the deadliest years for pedestrians in years. As NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, said last year: "We continue to see high rates of pedestrian fatalities in major cities and across every demographic."
Globally it's not much better with around 270,000 pedestrians traffic deaths each year and pedestrians accounting for 22 percent of the 1.24 million annual road traffic deaths.
But cities are beginning to take innovative approaches to increase pedestrian safety.
In San Francisco, architects have designed a crosswalk that represents a new take on the humble curb and ultimately aims to make roads safer for walking. The design, by Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects, uses raised curbs that extend into the street and provide a buffer between cars and pedestrians and help remind drivers that there could be pedestrians present. And, by adding gardens and benches, the infrastructure could serve a larger community purpose.
As Zoe Prillinger of Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects, explained: "We also realized that if it is built along a series of intersections, this everyday infrastructural element could sponsor an extended network that unified the street experience for pedestrians, created green connections to local parks and gave meaning and expression to the local community."
It's not just cities making pedestrian safety a priority. One of the main culprits in pedestrian fatalities, the car, could also be one of the solutions. Volvo has become a leader in pedestrian safety with the release of technology that uses radar and cameras to scan the road for pedestrians (and bikes). If a pedestrian steps out in front of the car, it automatically applies the brakes to avoid a collision. But in case of a collision, Volvo is also prepared by rolling out cars with external airbags for pedestrians to reduce head injuries.
But not all solutions to pedestrian safety have to be innovative. The biggest steps that the World Health Organization suggests, in a pedestrian study last year, that cities make to increase pedestrian safety are straightforward enough and include:
-Adopting and enforcing new and existing laws to reduce speeding, curb drinking and driving, decrease mobile phone use and other forms of distracted driving; -Putting in place infrastructure which separates pedestrians from other traffic (sidewalks, raised crosswalks, overpasses, underpasses, refuge islands and raised medians), lowers vehicle speeds (speed bumps, rumble strips and chicanes) and improves roadway lighting.
Still, these types of changes aren't happening fast enough.
"More than 5000 pedestrians are killed on the world’s roads each week. This is because their needs have been neglected for decades, often in favor of motorized transport," said Etienne Krug, WHO Director of the Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability. "We need to rethink the way we organize our transport systems to make walking safe and save pedestrian lives."
The arguments here to the effect that cars are a blessing could probably also be applied to alcohol, or even marijuana. I happen to believe that both these last can be fatal, but that it was a mistake fr either to be illegal. I would however make it a serious offence to be under the influence of either when operating a machines as dangerous as a motorcar, or when carrying a gun.
There are places that are appropriate for a motorcar, but cities like Brussels, London, Oxford, New York, San Francisco, or Washington DC, , would be better off without them. As for the city of Our Lady and the Angels, it is very sad to try to think of a way to rehabilitate it for a car-free world.
Far too many of our cities are designed for motorcars. We are literally, in the sense of drug dependency, dependent upon our cars. For 14 years I commuted to work 7 miles away, by bicycle. I abandoned that when a motorist ran a red light and six lanes of highway and hit my front wheel. I concluded that riding the Metro, although it took longer, was safer. Fortunately my employer was enlightened enough to subsidise such travel as an offset to the equally subsidised car-parking.
But if we were not hagridden by the idea that it is virtuous to provide "employment", would we need so many office buildings?
Nobody really respects "work". That's why ambitious people want to call themselves "executive".
One of the main culprits in pedestrian fatalities, is pedestrians!. The walk out into the path of oncoming traffic. There are few cases where vehicles mount the pavement. Pedestrians need to be prevented from crossing roads, by there being more railings installed.Not everybody wants to walk around a city.
Cities are being choked because pavements are being made wider and wider. Everything is done to inconvenience the motorist. Chicanes, and speed humps are a hindrance to travel, and cause more pollution.
I find it interesting that all of this is focusing on the cars being the ones to blame. First off, cars are not the problem, people are. Much like guns don't kill people without someone behind the trigger, cars do not go around hitting people without a driver behind the wheel.
That being said, drivers are not always the problem, far too often I see people crossing extremely busy streets, not at crosswalks but in the middle of the street, even when a crosswalk is less than a hundred feet away. This happens at all times of the day and night, I have seen people dressed in all black doing this at night in a poorly lit area. Bottom line is if people would cross the streets safely, we would find a reduction in pedestrian deaths as well.
I am not saying drivers are never to blame, but I am saying that they aren't always the ones that cause the problems. As far as car free, there are many places where that will never work. Take us in southern California, everything is spread out too far to make it car free, even inside certain cities.
I think some of the information reported was done in a misleading manner just to create a greater effect. Based on the 2002 to 2011 stats you provided for U.S. pedestrian deaths, these death rates are dropping as well, but just not as fast as the total vehicular deaths. 2002 deaths of 43,005 and pedestrian deaths at 11% = 4,731 pedestrian deaths. While 2011 deaths of 32,367 and pedestrian deaths at 14% = 4,532. Not decreasing as much as the overall death toll, but still decreasing. It is frustrating how journalists will twist the representation of fact just to gain notoriety over actually reporting a consistent and accurate representation of the truth.
Within five years every city in the world will be car-free.
Cars are the cause of the ongoing financial unraveling; use of the cars cannot pay for the cars except for the small percentage who drive tractors, delivery vehicles or taxis. What pays is (unaffordable) debt; in the current amount of hundreds of trillions of dollars.
The unaffordability of debt in turn affects the ability of petroleum drillers to bring motor fuels to the market. Less credit = fuel shortages. No fuel = no cars.
There are internal competitions within markets: China's capital investment sector competes with Americans' cars for dollar credit. We know how this movie ends, the cars always win; China is starved for funds, there is a credit squeeze/deleveraging event that affects China.
China deleveraging affects the US. In the end the cars take it in the neck as those without money or credit cannot buy fuels or cars.
The similar dynamic: new Japanese cars must compete against cars + fuel-in-hand; the outcome is Japanese trade deficit, the country is starved for funds, there is credit squeeze/deleveraging event, etc. This process is underway right this minute. Europe is being de-carred by similar process; the hard way, by the car-driven bankruptcy of one country after another ...
A consequence is the rise to political legitimacy of nieuwe-Nazi political organizations across Europe. One possible outcome = trans-European war like that in Yugoslavia in the 1990s on a much larger scale. Another outcome is simply end of the euro.
Because the euro = gasoline, the end of the euro is a death sentence for Europe's car industry.
World = mangy dogs fighting for scraps of what remains of our once-plentiful natural resources, squandered for nothing in stupid cars.
Cars = more destructive than an invasion from outer space. Best to simply get rid of them altogether.
A car free city also means a delivery free city, so no food in the supermarkets, no burgers in McDonalds, No clothes in the shops - nothing larger than anything a postie or courier can carry or put in a post cart - as no solution or even a mention of this is given in the refererence article
I'd also question Brussel's being Europe's most congested city - by what measure is this given, as Tom Tom (who know a thing about travel and traffic) reckon it is 4th after Warsaw, Marseille and Rome. 1 minute on the internet got some substantiation for this.
This is a huge problem in SW Florida. There are many reasons for it; inadequate or nonexistent side walks, imbibing walkers, walking at night in dark clothes, rampant jay walking, etc. I wonder if any of the driverless automobile developers have tested their capability at avoiding jay walking pedestrians after dark. Would be very interesting to know how the systems cope with this.
@cmwade1977There is something about being isolated in a machine that goes faster than you can run, and frequently cannot because of all the other similar machines, that oppresses the soul and addles the mind. The driving of a car becomes a game that you must win. It is therefore intrinsically dangerous.
But unlike a handgun, the motorcar is not a machine designed primarily to be able to kill people.
Here's a very simple fact, that perhaps even you can understand...
Without cars, the world would still be in the horse-and-buggy era, or in the walking era. That would mean that, most big cities would still be using ancient forms of transportation, and we wouldn't have the delivery systems which have made progress into the 20th and 21st century possible. All food and goods would have to be produced locally, or in people's backyards.
While cars may have caused millions of deaths and injuries, not having them would be a lot more detrimental to societies all over the world. More people have died from wars and genocide and starvation, than from use of cars and trucks. Why not try to stop all wars and genocidal events and religious and political persecutions and starvation? That's not to say we shouldn't stop deaths and injuries from vehicle usage, but, let's put things into proper perspective.
@neil.postlethwaite Generally, delivery trucks aren't banned from pedestrian zones, but their access is restricted to early morning or late night when stores are closed for business and very few pedestrians are around.
Plus, trucks and vans aren't the only ways to deliver goods:
Been to Rome last year (drove through Italy) and surprisingly - against my expectations - it did not seem that much or excessively traffic busy as many portray it to be. You should look at South Africa's major cities for congestions! Just to give you an idea of sorts, they have no public transport there! Many leave their houses between 5:00 & 6:00 to be at work around 8:00!
As with all of this tech, it will depend on how good the AI, sensoring tech and desision making is. In the Ford example, you'd kind hope the car would swerve to the left and not plough into the traffic light of advertising sign to the right, though in a busy street crashing into the jay-walker may give the least 'collateral damage' or may foul up the AI with 'unable to compute'.
Wondering if car free cities will become just as dangerous, with the many nut-jobs on bicycles given free reign to do what they like - many certainly aren;t that fussed about lights, rules of the road, stopping at red lights, not riding through junctions against traffic etc.
@adornoe@steve from virginiaIf you live in the open country - what's left of it - you probably do need a car. But if you live in a city, it would be far better to live in a city governed or better yet designed by the idea that cars should not be needed. You do not have to be athletic to achieve 15 mph on a bicycle. You do need good roads or solid paths, preferably at least 8 ft (two lanes) wide, and free of hurtling metal.
As for numbers of deaths from war and starvation, it is apparent that war has been hopelessly ineffective at keeping the human population in balance with its resources, for at least two centuries now.
Apologies, thought I read that as Brussel's is Europe's most congested... though the context is useful and needed. However, Brussel's as only the 16th largest City in Europe, so if you combine size of city with the relative congestion Index, absolute congestion is probably worst by far in probably London (as the biggest city by far, almost 2x the size of number #2 in Berlin) followed by Rome. Context, context, context...
Delivery and car access 'out of hours', is kind of not what the headline gives the impression of with "The Car Free city", as in the detail it;s only a wee bit of it, and only during the apparent daytime.
In the 'pedestrian's killed' stats, what are the proportion down to cars, and what is the car v's pedestrian rate ? Again frame the context of the claims in the story, as I'm sure vehicles are not 100% responsible, and if a moron walks in front of a car without looking where they were going and gets killed, it's kinda largely their fault, not the car drivers.
@SmartAlbert@adornoe@steve from virginia In the old times, before cars, bicycles might have been practical. In today's world, cars are a necessity, for the open country, and for city driving. Where it's impractical, is places like Manhattan, where it's too crowded for regular passenger cars to get anywhere faster than the subway system, or buses, or sometimes, walking. So, a bicycle might be a bit more practical in cities that can no longer improve the roadways to accommodate for vehicle traffic.
That comment regarding wars and human population, is incoherent and really tangential from what I said.
Wars were not intended to depopulate the world. Wars have different causes. Try to investigate what they're really about.