Changing Attitudes Toward Driving: It’s About the Law

Today’s featured post on the Streetsblog Network comes from WalkBikeCT. Looking at the European model for encouraging cycling and walking, it argues that infrastructure can’t do the job alone — to change attitudes toward driving will require changing the law:

47955256_171c9a2792.jpgIn Copenhagen, protected by bike lanes and the law. Photo by dc_forever via Flickr.

The bottom line is that if we are serious about giving people choices in transportation, if we want to get more people walking and biking, then we need for government to do more than just build sidewalks and stripe bike lanes, as helpful as that may be in some cases.

What we need is for government at all levels to fulfill one of its most basic responsibilities — to protect its citizens. Our laws need to be re-written so that driving is a serious privilege that comes with an accompanying degree of responsibility. Accidentally killing someone with a car should be treated the same way as any other accidental killing would be. Northern Europe seems to understand this, it’s about time we do too.

Meanwhile, the effort to comprehend and influence the stimulus package continues, as the legislative action moves to the Senate this week.

Pedestrianist takes a look at the numbers from the House bill, breaking down the proportion of highway spending to transit spending in all 50 states. CTA Tattler revisits the powerful testimony of the Chicago Transit Authority chairwoman, Carole Brown, before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee late last month. In Florida, Jacksonville Transit laments the lack of vision there for using the stimulus funds for transit. And the Missouri Bicycle Federation is calling on its members to contact Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill to lobby for more pedestrian- and bike-friendly projects in the stimulus.

  • One of the many problems with New York’s current set of relevant laws is the almost religious devotion to DWI as the only real factor for consideration when determining if an individual should be charged with some form of vehicular homicide. Namely, if a driver is not intoxicated or under the influence of some other drug, the laws make it very difficult to prosecute. So, forget about good old speeding, running a red light, going through a stop sign or any other such driver actions as being able to actually trigger a prosecution.

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