5 Nov 2015

Are cities for cars or people?

I've told many people that we moved back to Amsterdam from Vancouver ("best city in the world") because we hated the North American preference for cars over people in cities.*

Thus, I am glad to see that the German Greens are proposing that pedestrians and bicyclists not be constrained by red traffic lights. Yes, they are proposing that people and bikes can "run red lights," thereby reversing nearly 100 years of policies that promote cars over people. (Auto companies created "jaywalking" as a problem because cars were not getting priority.)

Will this change in laws, if implemented, result in death for walkers and bikers? I'm not sure if it will result in fewer or more accidents. In the one hand, more people will be crossing against lights. On the other, cars will have to slow down to make sure they are not going to hit people. (Cars often ignore speed limits as they drag race down streets.)

In the US, 5,478 pedestrians and cyclists were killed in 2013 (1.73/100,000)

In the Netherlands, 240 pedestrians and cyclists were killed in 2013 (1.43/100,000)

I cannot find good data on "mode share" (percent of people riding or walking) in both countries (here's some US data), but I'm guessing that the Dutch are FAR MORE (3x?) likely to ride or walk places, making their death rate even lower when considering the frequency of activity.

Bottom Line: Cities are for people, not cars.

* Related: Cars isolate people, making it harder to have relationships.