Vision Zero…Championing “Natural Time”

by LeslieKeenan on March 24, 2014

I kept hearing about yet another pedestrian death on the streets of SF. There have been 5 so far this year. Last year there were 21 pedestrian deaths. This is people dying because they don’t cross the street fast enough (a 6-year-old and an 86-year-old were among those killed last year), and in our culture getting people where they need to go (speed) is more important than human life. This is the one issue of linear vs. natural time that upsets me the most. (Watch my 3-minute YouTube explanation of the different kinds of time.) We are talking countless lives lost due to our hurry! Is there anything more screwed up about our priorities as a society than this?

So I was very happy to hear about an initiative getting underway in SF, called VisionZero.  It started in Sweden, and is now also in Chicago and New York. The underlying premise is explained rather simply in the video. Our current road systems have been engineered with the premise that speed for the vehicles is the priority, and that accidents are the responsibility of individuals. Merely by changing that premise and making engineering responsible for safety, changes everything. It acknowledges that humans are, well, human, and will make mistakes. “Our road systems are allowing drivers to take risks way beyond our capability,” the Vision Zero website says. And their strategy for changing this is working.

VisionZero Graph

This to me is very encouraging. It shows a natural time (“human”) perspective being acknowledged and even given an edge over linear time. But there is a long way to go to change people’s attitudes. Everyone is still stuck in linear time thinking. Even in the interview with Nicole Schneider, the executive director of Walk San Francisco, that I was listening to on KCBS yesterday, the two interviewers kept wanting to go back to whose fault it is and surely pedestrians have to take some responsibility (for instance, they are jaywalking or on a cell phone) despite her repeated calls for not blaming and for the fact that speed is the real cause of most fatalities, not distracted driving. Oh and an interesting side note. Jaywalking is actually a concept that developed when cars were first introduced to the roads. Cars taking priority over people, and making it people’s fault if they were in the road.


Were You Watching the Oscars Last Night?

by LeslieKeenan on March 3, 2014

And did you see this?


Notice all the cool old typewriters in the background!





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