Our insides are still all tied up from the awful and fatal bus-involved crash in which a Pulse driver killed a woman who stepped into the bus-only lane. While there has been some thoughtful coverage about how we can make our streets safer through infrastructure improvements to ensure this never happens again, there has also been some sensationalized local media coverage vilifying the Pulse.
For some reason, our local media loves to use the bus as a punching bag while ignoring the fact that the vast, overwhelming majority of people who die on our streets are killed by drivers of cars. And the further sad truth is that these deaths and serious injuries often go unnoticed, underreported, and, even worse, usually nothing is done to build better streets and make them safer for people.
Don’t get it wrong: There are changes that need to be made to the Pulse’s bus-only lanes to increase their visibility and safety. We’ll post more on that later. But for now, where does the blame really fall for nearly every pedestrian death? These deaths are caused by terrible street design that prioritizes the speed and throughput of cars over the safety of people. And we should also blame shitty, distracted drivers.
Here are just a few reports of people walking who were killed or hurt by drivers in the Richmond area just over the past couple months:
- October 18, 2019: Police: Pedestrian fatally struck while crossing Nine Mile Road
- October 17, 2019: Pedestrian walking in Chesterfield is fatally struck, the county’s second such death in three days
- October 15, 2019: UPDATE: Female pedestrian fatally struck on Courthouse Road in Chesterfield lived in nearby neighborhood
- August 15, 2019: Driver charged with hitting Richmond runner on Broad Street
- August 12, 2019: Pedestrian suffers life-threatening injuries after being struck in Richmond
And of course, there’s this: Richmond drivers among the worst in America, new study says.
So before you watch the next overly sensational, breaking news, special report about the dangers of bus rapid transit in Richmond, consider this: If our streets were actually designed for people rather than speeding metal boxes, and if people would actually slow down and pay attention while operating them, we wouldn’t have lost 16 people this year who were just trying to walk somewhere and the 242 people who were injured by drivers wouldn’t have been hurt at all.1
We’d rather have productive conversations about how we get those numbers down to zero by fixing our fucked up streets and enforcing our existing traffic laws. Everything else is just a distraction.
1 According to the Virginia DMV, 16 pedestrians have been killed by drivers in Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield since January 1, 2019 and another 242 have been injured.