Newsletter: broken bumpers and the bare minimum

Happy Friday,

Most mornings, my daughter and I bike past the corner of Taylor Ave NE and South Dakota Ave NE on the way to school. It’s not a complicated intersection: there are only two streets; the sightlines are clear;  there’s a traffic light. There’s no obvious reason it should be a challenge for drivers. Somehow, though, there’s always enough crash detritus at that corner to reconstitute a small Hyundai. Every week, there’s a new pile of shattered headlight lenses, a bumper or a quarter panel, and often new tire marks on the sidewalk. This morning we passed what appeared to be a tow hitch that had broken in several places. I looked at DC’s Vision Zero Crash Map, and most of these crashes don’t show up, which indicates that they’re either not getting reported, or people aren’t getting hurt. Making mistakes less fatal is a key part of the Vision Zero approach, so there’s some sort of a success story here, I guess? But it sure doesn’t make me feel any safer waiting on the sidewalk for the light to change.

The thought that kept spinning around in my head this morning on my ride to the office is that, for all the controversy it engenders, Vision Zero is really just the baseline. A transportation system that doesn’t kill people is not some wild utopian vision. It’s the bare minimum for a functional society. The wild utopian vision is a transportation system that’s environmentally sound, that’s affordable and convenient for everyone, and that fosters community and joy for everyone using it. 

Things to do this week:

A fun route idea for the weekend

Feels like a good weekend for the Matthew Henson loop: from the Takoma Metro, take Carroll Ave and pick up the Sligo Creek Trail. Head north to the end of the trail, through Wheaton Regional Park, and pick up the Matthew Henson Trail via Layhill Road. Take the Henson Trail west. When you hit the Rock Creek Trail, you can head north to Shady Grove, or south back to Bethesda or all the way into DC. 

Have a great weekend,