A Car Becomes a Weapon in Brazil; Pedestrians Shortchanged in Detroit

Here’s a taste of what members of the Streetsblog Network are talking about today.

Motorist attack on Porto Alegre Critical Mass a grim reminder of the automobile’s destructive power: WalkBikeJersey comments on the shocking attack on a Critical Mass ride in Porto Alegre, Brazil. As Damien Newton at Streetsblog LA wrote yesterday, two people are in critical condition after a motorist plowed through a pack of cyclists on Friday. A total of 50 cyclists were struck. The incident was captured on video and WalkBikeJersey’s Andy B says the footage drives home the destructive force of cars: “The primary lesson that we should take from this tragedy is that there is little difference between the potential violence and carnage that can be perpetrated using an assault weapon or an automobile. This video is proof of that and it’s time that our laws acknowledge this reality.”

Snow plows leave behind enormous barriers to sidewalks in Detroit, forcing pedestrians to brave the streets. Photo: Transport Michigan

Sidewalks get short shrift in snow removal: Transport Michigan reports on the sorry state of late-winter sidewalks, which writer Joel Batterman calls “a seasonal example of the second-class treatment which pedestrians and transit riders receive in our cities.” While roadways are cleared by city workers, the burden of clearing sidewalks rests on private property owners in Michigan, as in many places. Sidewalk shoveling is haphazard, forcing many pedestrians to risk their safety by venturing into the street. “Even where sidewalks are cleared, street plowing often comes at the expense of pedestrians, pushing up large banks at curb cuts,” Batterman writes. “For some on the sidewalks, these piles are only an irritant. For others, like the motorized wheelchair user in Detroit [right], they’re an insurmountable obstruction that poses a real danger of physical harm, since they make sharing the road with high-speed car traffic the only way to get around.”

Los Angeles covets New York City’s transportation chief: New York City transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn’s efforts to improve conditions for transit riders, cyclists, and pedestrians are envied on the other side of the continent. Los Angeles would love to have Sadik-Khan’s leadership, says Biking in LA in response to New York’s sensationalist press: “So here’s an offer. Los Angeles has been without a General Manager for our Department of Transportation for the past several months. And we’d like Ms. Sadik-Khan to come home every bit as much as the [New York] Post’s writers would like to get rid of her. So if they can convince New Yorkers it’s better to wallow in their own traffic and smog than actually do anything to improve it, we’ll gladly take her. Please.”