A recent string of pedestrian deaths and injuries in Portland has gotten me thinking more and more about this issue, and while I still have a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head, here are a few things that have kind of settled into some kind of consistent thought patterns.
1. Do we as human beings have the right to occupy public space? Space that we don’t own? Or is this something that is only granted or revoked by the government we live under? (Think about this carefully – what about people who don’t own property, who rent, who can’t afford a home at all, who have no concept of owning things – do they have a right to occupy space, or not?)
2. Do we as human beings have the right to be upset if something takes away our ability to occupy public space (maliciously or not), specifically by killing some people, and by instilling fear of death in the rest?
3. Do we as human beings have the right to be upset if, after we see our fellow humans killed and terrified, our governments do next to nothing about it, and in many cases, actually encourage and re-enforce the behaviors which caused death and instilled fear?
4. Do we as human beings have the right to be upset if, after we see our fellow humans killed and terrified, our governments respond by giving free reign to that which killed, and further restricting the vulnerable?
I would answer yes to all of these questions.
So, where are all the people who should be upset about the 45,000 people per year dying in the U.S. in automobile collisions? Let’s face it, for the most part, they aren’t accidents, they are preventable, unnecessary deaths. And yet our automobile design, our road design, our laws and the way they are interpreted, our law enforcement and our city planning continue to be focused on moving more automobiles faster, on isolating the driver from his/her surroundings, and on requiring less and less of the driver in terms of awareness and interaction with their environment.
Am I upset? Yes.