Two for Tuesday
I’m going to attempt to tie two stories to one blog, we’ll see how it goes.
First, the most recent blow and death of HB 231. Yes, it’s frustrating to see good and necessary vulnerable user bills fall victim to politics, but that’s not to say good and necessary vulnerable user bills won’t rise again next session and successfully become laws. I called Tish Kelly and there is optimism from her and the bill sponsors to refile. There’s also a plan being developed to ‘rally the troops’ this summer for bicycling education and advocacy efforts to take it to the districts and legislative staffers months before the next session. Of course I’ll keep you posted, I’m the one developing the plan.
Second, somewhat in the same lines as above, but coming to us a guest blog. Mark Kaire of Kaire and Hefferman, LLC, a law firm in Miami, sent this story from his own experience of, for lack of a better term, being duped this past April:
You got me, Miami. Web-savvy and news-shrewd as I try to be, you got me. I suppose April and Google have at least this much in common: they’re snares for our inner “fool.” April 1st hoodwinks the best of us. Here’s how it happened to me:
In the course of my daily digest of local and national news, I came across an online report detailing a major new initiative in Miami. Mayor Carlos Gimenez had just announced Vision Zero 305, an ambitious effort to dramatically curb the rate of pedestrian and cyclist accidents citywide.
Modeled after similar “Vision Zero” campaigns in big cities like San Francisco and New York, Vision Zero 305 would steadfastly reject the notion that catastrophic injury and death are inevitabilities in modern transportation. The mayor would commit to improving roadways, educating the public, and holding police accountable for fairly enforcing traffic laws. Yes!
“What great news!” I thought. “It’s about time!”
Except that there is no Vision Zero 305. No announcement from Mayor Gimenez. No citywide commitment to cyclist safety in Miami. Nothing.
A quick Google search for similar reports didn’t find a thing. The Mayor’s website was silent. No one was talking about it online. And then I checked the article’s date: April 1, 2014.
Ah, April Fool’s Day strikes again. I wish I could say it’s the first time I’ve fallen for the perennial prankery. At least the day keeps us humble, right?
But maybe this particular prank serves a greater purpose. Maybe it’s the rare practical joke to rise to the level of satire, illustrating with humor and guile the need for real change. Vision Zero 305 might have originated as a joke, but there’s no reason we can’t make it reality.
Here at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC, we are officially spearheading an effort to make Vision Zero 305 a reality. It might take a collective Twitter effort to get the mayor’s attention, but I think it’s achievable. I’ll explain why — and how — below.
Is Miami Cyclist Safety a Joke?
The April Fool’s article that tricked me originated last year at TransitMiami.com, a website that strives to promote safe and efficient multimodal transportation in South Florida. Clearly, they’re of the opinion that the state of cyclist safety in Miami is something of a joke.
Is that fair? Well, let’s look at the facts.
Florida leads the country in pedestrian fatalities. Among the ten most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the entire country, the top four are all in Florida: Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami.
Meanwhile, South Florida as a whole is second only to New York and Los Angeles when it comes to pedestrian deaths in a metro. Statewide, we have more than three times as many fatalities per 10,000 bicyclists as California. Similarly, we have double the national average of pedestrian fatalities.
Florida accounts for 17% of national bicycle accident deaths, more than any other state, with thousands of crashes and over a hundred fatalities every year.
Since 2013 alone, bicycle crashes and fatalities in Florida have increased by double-and-triple-digit percentages. Miami-Dade County itself saw a 120% increase in bicycle crash fatalities between 2011 and 2012. Nearly every available statistic paints a less-than-dazzling picture of Magic City.
Clearly, the problem is as bad here as anywhere, and it’s only getting worse. That’s nothing to laugh about. These aren’t mere numbers — they’re real lives. Saving them is a goal that deserves our city leaders’ sober and immediate attention.
Vision Zero Campaigns Can Work
Miami is home to 400,000 people. According to The League of American Bicyclists, some 50,000 of those commute by bicycle. In a city with those stats, we shouldn’t have to look at governmental action for safety as an April Fool’s joke — especially when you consider our record-breaking rate of bicycle deaths.
The time for action is now. Vision Zero 305 might have begun as satire, but other cities around the country have had great success with similar efforts in real life.
New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio just made 2014 the safest year for pedestrians in the whole history of New York, thanks to his own Vision Zero Campaign. Boston, Portland, San Francisco, and a handful of cities around Europe have seen comparable success.
So why not Miami? There’s no good answer to that question. Let’s unite, then, in a shared vision for zero pedestrian deaths here at home. Our citizens deserve it.
Boston’s Vision Zero campaign began when a respected personal injury law firm took action and spurred dialogue about cyclist safety in their city. Here at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC, we’d like to do the same thing for Miami.
If Miami is to lead the country in pedestrian deaths, the city has a duty to lead in the prevention of those deaths too.
We call on Mayor Carlos Gimenez to join us in making Vision Zero 305 a reality for Miami. It is only with the city government’s assistance that we can hope to achieve the systemic and infrastructural changes necessary to save lives.
In the meantime, there’s an easy way for you, the reader, to help too. Our firm is launching www.VisionZero305.com. It’s filled with useful information, but it also highlights eyewitness reports from citizens just like you.
The next time you see a car parked in a designated bike path, a cyclist dealing with an inadequate bicycle lane, a dangerous intersection situation, or any example of the city neglecting its cyclist population, snap a quick picture and use the hashtag #VisionZero305.
We’ll collect all the tweets and add them to our citywide tagboard. Chicago’s done something similar, and we’d like to replicate and enhance their efforts here in Southern Florida.
It’s time to bring attention to the Miami government’s failure to adequately protect its tens of thousands of bicycle riders. These innocent people are needlessly losing their lives, and the city has done entirely too little to protect them.
So spread the word, Floridians! Together, we can make a difference.
We hope that Mayor Gimenez will hear our cry, step up, and help us make an April Fool’s dream come true: no more pedestrian or bicycle deaths in Miami.
Visit Vision Zero 305 for more information.
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