When the highly respected eco-theologian, Fr. Thomas Berry was born in 1914, there were just one million cars in the USA. Horses and buggies were the mode of transportation in New York City. Worried citizens were concerned about threats from three feet of horse dung on their streets. Horses were replaced by combustion engines propelling cars. Instead of horse dung, NYC was soon covered by 3000 cubic feet of carbon dioxide flowing from one gallon of gasoline into 22lbs of O2. With one million vehicles in 1914, the USA was soon inundated with 300 million cars one century later.
September 13, 1899, Henry Bliss was struck by an electric taxi at 234 W. 75th Street in Manhattan, becoming the first pedestrian to be killed by a vehicle. Hundreds of pedestrians have been killed or injured by vehicles in NYC since 1899. Newly elected Mayor Bill DeBlazio boldly decided to reduce the speed limit to 25 mph in order to protect citizens. (WALL STREET JOURNAL, November 6, 2014)
While spending hot, tense summers with the George & Lillian Wall family on Harlem’s W. 122nd St. in 1965 and 1966, I observed the materialistic city favored cars and was a continual threat to pedestrians. From the time of their first steps, children were disciplined never to walk near curbs because of irresponsible drivers.
Although traffic jams could easily slow the flow of vehicles to the point where walking was faster, no mayor had the gumption to pass legislation reducing the speed to 25 m.p.h. Mayor John Lindsay in the 1970’s challenged residents by declaring, “You have every right to enter NYC, but you do not have a right to bring a ton of metal (before plastic was a vital component of cars) with you.”
Heathcoate Williams wrote Autogeddon, (variation of the verse from Revelation 16:16 Armageddon, locus of where armies will eventually slaughter each other) a document of how dangerous vehicles are in every city or town. The Williams research prompts all to ask: “If cars were declared the ‘enemy’ would we not have surrendered long ago?”
Records indicate that 3,613,732 people have been killed by cars in the USA from 1899 – 2013. That casualty number exceeds deaths from all wars entered into by our country. It is easy to remember:
SOMEONE IS KILLED BY CARS EVERY FIFTEEN MINUTES IN THE USA
A serious subject still unresolved is the installation of seat belts in school busses. Speed kills.
Rosedale Drive has 25MPH signs posted at both ends. Neither school busses nor cars honor that simple restriction.
Carnage begins on Kaliste Saloom and Pinhook early in the morning and extends into evening hours. Some citizens of Lafayette dread driving in a city where 40 m.p.h. is not fast enough.
Would there be more civility and less bloodshed if Lafayette was bold enough to gradually transition into the 25mph speed limit of “The World’s Financial Center”? Driving slower means less air pollution.