In media and general societal perception, the idea of road safety is often perceived as a special interest concern for those who do not own personal automobiles. While that group of people is understandably concerned about safety in public space, considering there are heavy cars whizzing by them at high speeds all the time, I find it somewhat disturbing that most of the people in those cars aren’t more concerned with their own safety. We’ve given people a false sense of security, thinking that if they get into an automobile, they’re suddenly safe from all the troubles of the road.
Despite the fact that 35,000 people die every year in car crashes just in the U.S., that car crashes are the leading cause of death of children in the U.S., and one of the leading causes of death for people of any age, we’ve given people the idea that changes such as reducing speed limits, engineering roads so that visibility is good for everyone using the space, so that it’s more comfortable to go slowly, requiring driving without distractions like phones, media consoles, etc, and engineering roads so that transit, walking and cycling are made feasible are all special-interest concerns that only benefit the silly minority of people who would ever not want to be in a car; those people trying to freeload off the system and get away without paying their fair share.
Regardless of whether you find yourself in a car or not on any given day, this argument is ridiculous. In fact, people who own cars and drive them regularly have much to gain from these same things, as their lives, health and property are at risk just as much as anyone else’s in this whole ‘game’ of road safety.
I write this out of deep respect for the lives of all of the citizens of our country. I’m sick of seeing the massacre that happens every year, and hardly anyone even blinks at it. Almost everyone knows someone who has been hurt seriously or killed in a car crash, and yet we treat it as if it’s just a necessary inconvenience.
Thankfully, I think our governments are starting to come around to this and realize something should be done, though many of them have only begun to consider what should be done, and many of them are kind of flailing, waffling, or just sticking their heads in the sand. I think much of the fault in continuing this trend comes from our media, who seem bent on fostering a competition and generating controversy and thus readership and sponsorship, at the expense of the lives of people on the roads. It’s despicable and irresponsible, it blinds people to the real issues going on, and it creates battles where there should be cooperation. Of course, each citizen bears responsibility as well, to actually think about the information that enters their brain and to consider what to do with it.
All of that to say, let’s stop fighting this battle of bikes vs. cars vs. pedestrians. Everyone is on the losing end in the current system, and we need to all work together to make things better for all of us. Stop letting people game you into fighting a civil war where we’re all just killing each other as a distraction to make money for other people. War is over, if you want it.