Denver’s Culture of Acceptance When It Comes to Traffic Violence

Photo: David Sachs
Photo: David Sachs

After a driver hit a person crossing Hampden Avenue this morning and sent him to the hospital with a head injury, Denver7 traffic reporter Jayson Luber expressed grave concern — for the car:

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 10.50.19 AM
Image: Twitter

No one should expect Twitter, a volcano spewing hot takes, to deliver well-thought-out ideas about a complex transportation system designed for maximum carnage. (Denver’s seen nearly 10,000 crashes this year alone.) But when a reporter for the local ABC affiliate expresses concern for an inanimate object over a human being who just suffered a potentially life-altering blow to the head, Twitter can tell us something about the culture of traffic violence in Denver.

The primacy of the car in our city, and the ubiquitous injuries and deaths that result, have led people to accept carnage as a daily cost of doing business. This casual disregard for human life is evident all around us, especially online, where people openly talk about killing others because of how they choose to move around.

Image: Twitter
Image: Twitter

Or take Luber’s tweet: Is he saying that because the pedestrian was outside of a crosswalk, he essentially got what was coming to him? If so, how is that okay? It’s not about political correctness — it’s about realizing that these tragedies are preventable instead of rushing to blame the victim. We’re talking about a five-lane highway not designed with pedestrians in mind that only received a sidewalk on its south side last year.

One tenet of Vision Zero, the Hancock administration’s goal to end traffic deaths, is that streets should be forgiving, so when people do make mistakes they don’t have to pay with their lives. Denver needs better infrastructure, but it also needs the public to grasp the fact that these incidents are preventable with better engineering and enforcement.

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