N.B.: This started off as a post on the Bike-Pgh message board, where the topic concerned a child who was run over by a woman in an SUV. The conversation was going on about the relative merits of various shapes of cars, when my contention was that if the driver was not driving at all, there would not have been a kid run over.
Not enough attention is being paid, IMHO, to my contention: Why EVER drive? What made this trip, or anyone’s trip in a car, necessary? I’m sure a few trips can only be accomplished by using an automobile, but the more you try not to, the more you find out that indeed it is possible.
Change some things.
* Choose not to shop at a place that can only be gotten to by car.
* Choose to plan expected trips, like shopping, such that you only need to do it once every two weeks instead of weekly or almost daily.
* Choose to commute by bus, carpool, bicycle, feet, or some combination thereof.
* Better yet, telecommute when at all possible so you don’t lose valuable time at 100% capacity doing something useless like merely getting there. Demand it, when the job allows it.
* Downsize your fleet. Your household only needs one car, tops. I’m making it work in McCandless, have been for 20+ years. Stop thinking “I own a car” and rather “My household has a car, shared among multiple drivers.”
* Stop making trips to “pick someone up” when they can walk or bike or bus.
* Decide that Suzy and Danny *can* get to piano lesson on their own. Think “they’re already 10″ instead of “they’re only 10″.
* Cease to tolerate bad driving behavior. Call people out on it. If you want to stand at red lights with a baseball bat and take out a windshield or two of drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians, it might be worth the court battle and media coverage.
* When cycling, TAKE THE DAMN LANE. Refuse to concede to having to hug parked cars (with doors opening), the curb, etc. You are MUCH safer smack dab in front of someone’s steering wheel than off to the side where they *think* they can get past you.
* Buy bus fare. I didn’t say ride the bus. (Well, I did, earlier, but this is different.) Buy a monthly pass. Then another. Figure out how the system works without having to figure out fares. Make it work. The more people they have paying into the system, whether they ride it or not, the more likely they will keep routes in place and maybe even expand service.
* Learn how to use the buses’ bike racks. Bike to the bus, use the bus to get past the suckiest traffic, then bike the rest of the way to your destination.
I was at the park for that little gathering. I rode from McCandless, up by CCAC North, by way of downtown where I work. I took a bus to the busway’s Homewood station and biked to Reynolds & S Lex. Then I rode back downtown, using Fifth, taking the lane (nearly) the whole way. (One spot, I let a bunch of cars and a bus past. One.)
Stop driving. I’m serious. Figure out how. Make it work. I don’t care what you’re driving. When we stop driving, we will stop running people over. It’s that simple.