Friday, December 14, 2012

Unfinished post: The cause of the cause of death

N.B.: Perfection is the enemy of the good, and because of that, I have not posted at least four I've started in the past month. So, this one is the opposite, an obviously incomplete first draft, written in a single ride on a very fast O12 McKnight Express bus. It will probably take longer to type it than it took to write it. (It did, by about 3x, even without research.)

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The Cause of the Cause of Death

This past week in Pittsburgh, a 53-year-old woman was struck and killed as she crossed the street. Three vehicles hit her. In a 25 mph zone. In a painted crosswalk. In broad daylight. How does this happen? Yes, the accident reconstruction experts will evaluate the cause of how this woman was killed, but nobody is looking at the cause of that: Why did this woman have to cross the street, and why were three vehicles there to run her down?

Actually, four vehicles were involved, including hers, as she was walking from the parking lot she drove to from her home that morning. It was easy to locate her home address and see what transportation choices she had. To say the least, it is enlightening.

The closest road to her home that has any bus service is _[Road A]_, requiring a walk of about a mile on _[Road B]. While I am not intimately familiar with that side of town, a quick look at _[Road B]_ on StreetView shows no sidewalk but a fairly wide shoulder, a couple feet of it actual pavement. No serious hill, moderate traffic speed (supposedly, posted [35 mph, check this]). It would have been physically possible to walk to that bus stop, but not at all pleasant, similar to my 0.8-mile hike on Perrymont.

More enlightening is that  _[Road B]_ itself used to have transit service, but no longer does. In fact, there was a bus stop only a few dozen yards from her house. Checking my bus schedule archives, and doing a rough sketch of her theoretical transit commute back then, she would have had a ___-minute, [one?]-ride trip [, requiring __ transfers]. This compares with my typical ride on the Perry Highway bus, which got me into town from about as far out, roughly 10 miles, but with one transfer I could actually get there faster. But the point is, she used to have a very short walk to a bus [that got her all the way into town].

[assumption: TDP consolidation] Port Authority revamped the entire route system in 2010, consolidating lots of suburban routes. Because of this, her right-past-the-house route was eliminated, requiring her to travel that [mile] to the remaining route. So she lost her quick and easy bus stop, and it was easier for her to drive the whole way than to figure out how to get the mile down the street. That poses the question, why are there not sufficient park-and-ride spaces available to make that option viable?

[need to research] Let's also look at the reasoning behind the consolidation. Port Authority's consultants, the Nelson\Nygaard firm, looked at the ridership and productivity on each route prior to making the changes that were adopted. How useful was this route in the overall scheme of things, back in the day? [If a transfer was necessary, how easy was it to do that? Was transit really an option, even with a bus stop yards away?] Or was this a route that never should have existed in the first place, one of many routes put there because of supposed demand that never materialized?

[assumption: Route cuts] Facing an enormous deficit, Port Authority eliminated 15% of its service in March 2011, on top of a 15% cut in 2007. In this case [verify this], she lost the quick and easy route in the March 2011 cuts. Here, I put the onus squarely on state GOP leadership for the past 10 years not to come up with a funding mechanism that kept the buses running. With transit cuts came more people driving, and hence more people crossing streets from parking lots.

Short answer: No bus to ride, and/or not easy to ride, so she drove. The bus would have dropped her off at ______, a very different walk from that from the parking lot on Smallman by 14th Street.

A similar analysis should be done for each of the other drivers. Why was anyone driving? The box truck I'll give a pass to, as he was on a multi-state commercial delivery. Everyone else, though, potentially had a transit and/or bicycle option. Not only should she not have been there to run over, there should have been nobody there to run her over.

Moral of the story: Lack of transit funding helped kill this woman. Get more people out of cars and into the transit system, and fewer people will die in crashes.

1 comment:

  1. Some thoughts on what really led to a woman getting run down by THREE cars on a Pittsburgh street.