Huey Randle Jr. lived on my grandmother’s street for 47 years. The 66-year-old black Vietnam War veteran is a major figure in his community and often appears during daily walks. For his daughter Chiquita, he is a stone, no matter what the task, he is always willing to help her when needed.
Since moving to his home in Gardena, a suburb of Southern California, Randall has walked two blocks along Western Avenue to the local convenience store almost every day to drink and eat snacks in the evening. Over the years, as the area has become more and more congested by car and truck traffic, walking has always made the most sense-only 15 minutes round trip.
But early last month, Randall trek for the last time. When he walked home through a wide five-lane street, he was killed in a hit and run accident. His life and death highlighted the sober and growing reality of black Americans. According to a new data, from 2010 to 2019, black pedestrians are 82% more likely to be hit by drivers than white pedestrians. report From Smart Growth America, an urban development advocacy organization.
Last year, despite the COVID-19 restrictions, Keep the driver away from the road with Small-scale adoption of car-free streets In some cities, the number of blacks who died in traffic accidents has increased by 23% compared to 2019, which is the largest increase in traffic accident deaths of all races.
Charles T. Brown, founder of Urban Planning Company Equitable Cities, told Grist that these differences are the result of deliberate policy decisions with long historical roots.
“For generations, we have Prioritize meeting car needs, While ignoring the needs of all other modes of transportation, such as cyclists, pedestrians, and transit users,” he said. “Communities of colored people have been specially dissected and become unsafe and unhealthy. “
It is estimated that 38,680 Americans died in motor vehicle accidents last year. According to data from the US Department of Transportation, this is the highest number of traffic deaths since 2007, with the death toll of almost every race increasing. National Highway Traffic Safety AdministrationOf these deaths, nearly 20% are black victims, and blacks make up only 13% of the American population.
“Even if there are fewer people driving as we saw in COVID-19, we will still see greater differences in traffic accidents until we make compensatory infrastructure investments in black, Latino, and Native American communities ,” Brown said. This is because the possibility of people of color being injured in a traffic accident is directly related to decades of racist urban planning.
With the rapid development of roads and highways after World War II, the main roads in major metropolitan areas were designed to be connected Low income, Black, Latino, with Indigenous communityAt the same time, these groups Unlikely to own a car And more likely to need public transport Because of the huge gap between rich and poor.Although people of color become More likely to be the first to be affected by car traffic and pollution, As pedestrians, they are provided Less security protection: The Federal Automobile Safety Supervisory Agency did not consider the possibility of certain cars killing pedestrians in collisions. In the United States, vehicles only need to meet crash safety standards to protect occupants, not those who might find themselves in the path of these vehicles.
The COVID-19 pandemic will only exacerbate this problem.Coronavirus precautions keep black and Latino workers Unlikely to work from home Than other groups. Brown said that because public transportation often runs at a reduced capacity, this means that more black commuters can only walk, so traffic accidents are more likely to occur.
The high risk of black people dying in traffic accidents stems from many other racial differences, such as Residence segregation with Income GapThe research also shows that direct behaviors of interpersonal racism and implicit bias also play a role: More likely to make way for white pedestrians On crosswalks instead of black pedestrians. Police chase, Which most often occurs in densely populated communities of color in urban centers, increases risk. In Chicago, Two-thirds of the police chase It ended in car accidents-many of them were fatal.Most importantly, in response to the fate of the blacks, the fate movement Some state legislatures Efforts are being made to enable drivers to crack down on pedestrian protesters blocking the road.
According to Smart Growth America, the southern United States-with the largest proportion of black residents, and seven of the ten poorest states located here-is the most dangerous place for pedestrians. The report found that across the country, the mortality rate in low-income communities is almost twice that of middle-income communities and nearly three times that of high-income communities. Low-income communities with large numbers of people of color are unlikely to have sidewalks, marked crosswalks, and street designs to support safer and slower speeds. They are also more likely to be located in industrial corridors, where there is more traffic from diesel trucks and freight trains and high levels of air pollution.
As for the solution, Brown called for a holistic approach to revitalize infrastructure, including lowering speed limits, investing in public transportation, and shrinking the streets of urban communities.But this is only the beginning; he told Grist that the city needs to be fundamentally rebuilt Not dependent on car use.
“Now, we have to make people drive safer,” he said, “but we need to make these investments to make it easier to make a paradigm shift, which means that we will eventually have a higher percentage of people riding bicycles and walking in our communities. And take public transportation.”
At the same time, as the country considers President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal, Brown stated that more attention needs to be paid to the trauma and damage caused by drivers, because the U.S. Department of Transportation does not release demographic data on those who drive cars that cause fatal accidents.
“Why no one asks,’Who is hitting pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists?'” he asked. “In any other situation where nearly 40,000 people were killed, you would know who was killing them.”