Stop de Kindermoord
March 12, 2018 11:10 AM   Subscribe

The Netherlands is known today as a haven for pedestrians and cyclists - but this wasn't always so. In the 1970s, a growing epidemic of traffic deaths led to a nationwide advocacy movement called Stop the Child Murder. The result was a transformation in Dutch street design which has rendered its public spaces among the safest in the world. With American traffic fatalities on the rise, activists are beginning to call for Americans to get truly angry about traffic violence.
posted by showbiz_liz (25 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
(This post was prompted by the recent deaths of two children in NYC, 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein and 20-month-old Joshua Lew. There is a protest march planned for 6pm tonight in Park Slope, NYC.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:14 AM on March 12 [5 favorites]


WISE UP, RISE UP
posted by entropicamericana at 11:26 AM on March 12


My friend wrote a book about this. In The City of Bikes
posted by josher71 at 11:26 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


.

for those poor women and their children. I thought about that all day when I heard of it.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:45 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Hell, right now the US can't even stop people from murdering children with actual guns, let alone cars.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:51 AM on March 12 [13 favorites]


activists are beginning to call for Americans to get truly angry about traffic violence.

Like we used to, back in the 1920s. Behold: Municipal Murder Map for the year 1927 -- (with location of possible new playgrounds) - from The American City, New York. EACH DOT A DEATH. Published by the City Club of New York, back when pedestrian and bicyclist deaths were tragedies, before the invention of jaywalking (previously).
Historically, "the principles of common law applied to crashes. In the case of a collision, the larger, heavier vehicle was deemed to be at fault. The responsibility for crashes always lay with the driver. Public opinion was on the side of the pedestrian. "There was a lot of anger in the early years," says Norton. "A lot of resentment against cars for endangering streets."
Now Vision Zero View is a publicly funded fatality and serious injury map of New York City, a dynamic, pretty thing that can filter for ped, bik, car, or all modes, and by serious injury and fatality, or just fatality. But the fatalities don't get the same public attention as they used to, almost 100 years ago.

Somehow, for our nation's love of gory, tragic news, car crashes need to be major, multi-car events to even warrant coverage. But because of that, they can get written off as "freak event" like "unfortunate intoxication" or "unusual weather" or "why the hell did we put a road through this low-lying valley that is repeatedly shrouded in dense fog (which is now also home to a paper mill that produces even more fog), let's install some warning lights and call it a day."

Driving is dangerous, and enough so that it's a normalized danger, in part because they're still called "accidents," which off-loads blame from negligent (and now increasingly distracted) drivers. They're crashes, or if you want to make it vague, "incidents."posted by filthy light thief at 11:51 AM on March 12 [6 favorites]


Only half-related:
99 Percent Invisible had a recent excellent two-part story [1, 2] on the Biljmer development in the Netherlands, which was a major failure of modernist design (including huge parking structures and separation of functions - housaing separate form shopping, etc). The housing complex became a kind of unintentional housing project for refugees from Suriname; part two goes into racism and reform around the complex, super fascinating in light of the history of housing projects in the US.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:58 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


Hell, right now the US can't even stop people from murdering children with actual guns, let alone cars.

I truly hope this is the year we begin to see real change on both fronts. Are enough of us angry enough yet?

At least when the murders are committed with guns, prosecutors and police are more likely to treat them as crimes. As of today, the driver who killed those two kids in NYC still hasn't been charged with anything.
posted by asperity at 12:07 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]


Also from the mid-1920s, a warning sign in Lee Circle, New Orleans, with scoreboard showing the number of daily, weekly, and annual traffic accident victims.
posted by CheeseLouise at 12:09 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


The last link is critical of Vision Zero policies as ineffective and advocates for a more in-your-face approach.

Here in San Francisco, I am cautiously optimistic about our Vision Zero project. It is a very wonky & data-driven approach. In 2017 we had the lowest number of traffic fatalities on record (20 total, which includes 14 pedestrians, 4 drivers, and 2 cyclists). There are many pieces of the project, but the core idea is to A. figure out where most of the deaths happen, B. look into how they happened, and then C. move things around so they happen less (usually some variation of getting cars to slow the fuck down).

In my neighborhood, for example, we have a major artery (Sunset Boulevard) which is wide, has multiple lanes, and attracts relatively fast driving. We also have a lot of schools (including my daughter's school!) right next to it, and a WHOLE lot of old folks. Most of the intersections had stopslights / crosswalks / etc., but not all ... and guess where we had fatalities? So they fixed that.

If SF's Vision Zero really is working (and we're at low enough numbers that year-to-year variation is lumpy), it will be because the project was actually funded, and actually made a priority by our former (and late) mayor. If you don't have the funding and backing, it won't do much.
posted by feckless at 12:54 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Here in San Francisco, I am cautiously optimistic about our Vision Zero project.

NYC has also had record-setting successes with Vision Zero, but there are a lot of competing interests who don't want traffic safety improvements, and they sometimes succeed in blocking them. For example, a bill to expand a demonstrably successful pilot speed camera program has been blocked in the state legislature two years running, and safe street redesigns are often blocked by members of local community boards (who tend to be whiter, richer, and more likely to have cars than the average New Yorker).

And, of course, there's the fact that cops in NYC basically refuse to investigate traffic violence half the time (not to mention constantly blocking bike lanes and bus lanes and sidewalks with their cars!)
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:59 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]


I got involved in London's road safety advocacy when I finally saw it replicating the successful campaigns of the Netherlands in the 70s. To be sure, there were effective campaigns before then, but I sat up and took notice at the die-in after Ying Tao was killed at Bank junction. Years later, that junction is now restricted to buses, cycles, pedestrians and emergency vehicles only.

The group that organised the die-ins, Stop Killing Cyclists (often called Stop The Killing lately because the word "cyclist" is so loaded) was explicitly founded to model Stop De Kindermoord. It really has been refreshing to see how the history lessons from people like Mark Wagenbuur and David Hembrow have affected strategy here in London.

We're no longer fighting for the skilled expert vehicular cyclists who have copies of Forrester or Franklin under their beds. We've finally revealed Vehicular Cycling as the bankrupt ideology it always was, and we can move forward to make safe roads for everyone instead of protecting young fit men's right to turn left across five lanes at 30MPH.

Yes, Vision Zero can often become watered down into "zero vision", and you end up with mere buzzwords. This is where campaigning needs to stay vigilant and work from all sides. You need the angry families holding officials to account for road deaths. You need infrastructure boffins demanding access to project plans early in the process. You need family social rides generating happy press materials. And believe it or not you need armies of online supporters who are willing to call a press outlet to task for seemingly trivial things like referring to all road deaths as "accidents" or blaming every collision on "a car" instead of admitting there's a driver in there.

We have so far to go, but the discourse is so much more productive over here right now. I hope folks in the US can build a good political machine for this as well.

After all, lives are at stake!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 1:54 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


I hope folks in the US can build a good political machine for this as well.

We're working on it! (This org, Families for Safe Streets, was very inspired by the UK's RoadPeace among others.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:03 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]


If you listen to the loudest people on my local next door, anything related to vision zero, ESPECIALLY those horrible protected bike lanes(*), is part of a communist plot to... something. it's kind of unclear what, but it's definitely evil and communist and agenda 21!

(*) I love them. I don't talk to people on next door or facebook about them any more, though
posted by flaterik at 2:47 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]


Heh, I've seen level headed people lose their shit NRA-Style when it comes to driving. Cyclists? Don't belong on the roads. Parking on the narrow sidewalk?* Where else am I supposed to park? Bike Lanes? Why, to make roads narrower? Pedestrians? Should have bought a car. Bus lanes? To make me go where all the traffic jams are?

Unfortunately, the car industry makes a lot of money to a lot of people, from the manufacturers of both cars and accessories, body shops and mechanics and ultimately even the cities. Any kind of restriction or inconvenience will see a lot of pushback.

*I should confess at this point I give zero fucks about being careful with parked cars on a sidewalk. I think last weekend I might have accidentally broken a rear view mirror with my messenger bag after some idiot parked-parked (ie, no "brb blinkers") their vehicle about four-fifths into a sidewalk . With a paid 24 hour car park in sight.
posted by lmfsilva at 3:49 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


Driving is dangerous, and enough so that it's a normalized danger, in part because they're still called "accidents," which off-loads blame from negligent (and now increasingly distracted) drivers.

Are there statistics about what percentage of auto "incidents" are caused by "negligent" drivers? I've never been a big fan of this framing because it sure sounds a lot like the 'ol poltergeist of "personal responsibility" whereas it seems to me just fundamentally crazy to think that people can be expected to go whizzing around in these contraptions all day without eventually fucking up catastrophically. The problem is driving.
posted by atoxyl at 7:20 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]


I just got back from a visit to Amsterdam a few days ago. It was really just a long layover before heading back to the states, but I was utterly delighted and thrilled by the massive number of bikes on the road. Older folks, younger kids, everyone in between peddling from A to B. I come from a bike friendly place in Oregon, but this was truly something else!

The US will never be like the Netherlands. Never. Never. Never. We’ll never be “mad enough”to give up our guns, let alone our cars, even for the most part. It is to weep, which I do often enough.
posted by but no cigar at 10:54 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


atoxyl: While it's wrong to use "accident" to blanket absolve all motorists of the deaths they have a part in, it's more correct to point out that the road engineers are failing to create safe infrastructure. We now have loads of evidence that re-engineering the roads can cut down on road deaths, and it makes motoring less necessary to boot. Unfortunately the current dogma is about increasing motor vehicle throughput or speed instead of safety, and engineers are not following actual Best Practices!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 1:44 AM on March 13 [2 favorites]


30 years ago I was a successful vehicular cyclist with copies of Forrester under my bed. It worked better for me than the dedicated cycling facilities, because the dedicated facilities were so bad! I used to joke about the signs that say "Bicycle Facility, No Winter Maintenance" that they should just cross off the word "Winter".

Lately we are getting fabulous paths built, everywhere around here. They are great and so far they are maintained. I am entirely in favor and it's not just because my current infirmity stops me from vehicular cycling! I have been donating to the trail organizations whenever I can. I just hope that we can sustain this, and maintain the darn things. Because the dedicated facilities trend has been here before, and the paths built in the 60s and 70s had turned into wildly dangerous obstacle courses by the 80s. The current set of paths seem more substantial, wider and more carefully engineered, so I hope they do survive. Because they are a real quality of life enhancement for the community.
posted by elizilla at 5:15 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


It’s worth noting that land transport accidents, as they are officially categorised, are the leading cause of death among 5 to 19 year olds in England and Wales.
posted by mr_stru at 6:33 AM on March 13




Are there statistics about what percentage of auto "incidents" are caused by "negligent" drivers? I've never been a big fan of this framing because it sure sounds a lot like the 'ol poltergeist of "personal responsibility" whereas it seems to me just fundamentally crazy to think that people can be expected to go whizzing around in these contraptions all day without eventually fucking up catastrophically. The problem is driving.

Yes. Each states DMV (in the USA) publishes an annual report, usually called something like Crash Stats. It breaks down reported causes of collisions. And, from the research I did a few years ago, the two predominant causes were "Driver inattention" and "Failure to yield," with largely rural areas having a bit more "Excess speed."
posted by entropone at 12:53 PM on March 13


rum-soaked space hobo: "it's more correct to point out that the road engineers are failing to create safe infrastructure. "

Probably more that the people paying for things are not prioritizing safety.
posted by Mitheral at 8:20 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


Guys, guys, don't fight, it's definitely both of those things!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:02 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


There's definitely a need for the funding to go the right way. But we also need to be bold about standards. Again, London has recently begun to show some teeth on this: Will Norman, the Walking And Cycling Commissioner under Mayor Sadiq Khan, has finally proven to local authorities that if they present plans that do not make walking and cycling materially safer he is more than happy to cancel their project funding from Transport for London.

But we're also having to get in and challenge motor-centric assumptions among engineers that go back to the 1930s in some cases. Forester and Franklin didn't appear in a vacuum: they were partly attractive because they told highway departments "Don't learn how to cater for bikes: just cater to cars and we'll manage, because we're all fit young men who cycle at 30MPH!" Franklin did a lot more active badgering (he apparently got very LBJ on the AASHTO guidance authors), but a lot of the engineering departments just heaved a mild sigh of relief and filed their work from 1974 in the archive and never looked at it again.

So we're having to attend meetings and teach this Sustainable/Systematic Safety and Vision Zero stuff to engineers with loads of letters after their names, and send them to the Netherlands to see what our spaces could have looked like if the US had actually continued in 1977 what they'd started in 1974.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 12:59 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


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