After my post yesterday about the devastating case of Raquel Nelson — the Atlanta-area woman who was convicted of vehicular homicide after her son was struck by a driver while they were crossing a busy road — I’ve been hearing from a lot of readers.
It exposes the dangerous design flaws on another Atlanta-area road, Buford Highway, and explains how outdated, auto-centric planning standards fail to serve an increasingly poor and carless suburban population. The results are often fatal. It’s a terrific report. If you care about this stuff, watch the whole thing.
Another reader, Alison Stone, sent me a link to a story from back in the late ’90s that underlines the classism inherent in the way transit riders and pedestrians are treated. Seventeen-year-old Cynthia Wiggins was hit and killed by a dump truck driver as she crossed a busy road from a public bus stop to her job at the Galleria, an upscale mall near Buffalo, N.Y. Why? Because although mall management let tour buses stop in its parking lot, they wouldn’t let the public bus coming from the inner city stop there:
According to regional transit officials, the mall’s developers refused to allow [the no. 6 bus] on their property, which meant anyone coming from central Buffalo had to disembark 300 yards away, on the other side of seven-lane Walden Avenue, a highway feeding into the New York State Thruway without a sidewalk or crossing.
Then, just before Christmas, a young, single mother from Buffalo was killed by a dump truck as she walked from the No. 6 bus stop to her job at the mall. Cynthia Wiggins became a cause celebre. Her death was taken up in local newspapers and on talk radio. A boycott was threatened. Yesterday morning, after a concession by Galleria officials, the first No. 6 bus stopped in front of the Lord & Taylor department store.
“Does it make a difference?” asked Michelle Simmons, as she stepped off the bus after the 40-minute ride from downtown Buffalo. “Yes, it makes a difference. I don’t have to cross that damned street any more and then walk across the parking lot.”
As the PBS report shows, such small victories are hard to come by. Because apparently, the very lives of poor people aren’t worth as much as the mere convenience of people with enough money to own a car.