Yesterday I went to the Bicycle Coalition’s Vision Zero Conference instead of going to a basketball game (Jenkintown girls are in the state tournament).
Denise Goren, Philly’s former Deputy Mayor of Transportation under Ed Rendell, introduced Veronica as the keynote speaker by talking about how pedestrian fatalities are skewed towards nations that are poor and neighborhoods that are poor. Each year 1.5 million pedestrians are killed around the world. 15 million more are seriously injured. 90% of fatalities are in nations that are poor.
Denise’s key point was: “Walk the walk. It’s a long game.” Twenty years ago Sweden started Vision Zero. And WSP is still working on Vision Zero today.
Notes from Veronica Davis’ talk
- Racial tension and gentrification gets expressed as “Newcomer”. And people will talk about their lineage in a neighborhood during city council testimonies. What they are really saying is, “I’m black, and I live in this city.”
- Cortland Malloy coined the term: “Myopic little twit”, referring to people who want cupcakes, bike lanes and dog parks. And this got associated with the bike community. Bike lanes became synonymous with young white people and the advocacy community.
- People are spinning safety as a war on cars and parking.
- While the vision is to make people safer, there is the sentiment, “You’re trying to use this project to get rid of me.” Google United House of Prayer and bike lanes to learn more.
- There is a difference between “bike advocates” and “people who bike”, who include the housing insecure – 400-600 bikes show up outside of the homeless shelter
- Personal stories – It’s important for people to hear stories from people who look like them.
- Bike lane project is 5 years old. Maybe one day it will be done. Sometimes you get stuck in the study. There’s procrastination by study.
Important takeaway – Temporary demonstrations matter
- Sherman Circle turn lane was improved for bus turning. They took out a travel lane for three weeks. This showed that traffic wasn’t that bad. A $20,000 fix can do a lot. It got done. There was no ribbon cutting.
- Pop up bike lane demonstrated the effects in front of people’s houses for Bike to Work Day. It engaged the neighborhood and helped move the project forward.
After talking, I reflected on Veronica’s point that it is important for people to hear stories from people who look like them. We had talked about images on maps, collecting photos, and about the importance of seeing something in real life. I think I did have a photo of Mayor Fenty on the original DC bike map. It made sense.
And then I thought about my desire to teach people in communities how to make their own maps. It would be a great way to share local stories and knowledge. And you learn so much just by making a map. That’s a premise of WikiMapping anyway – that people who live in a place intimately know its challenges. I really want to do this.