An Attempt to Create Empathy in Drivers

One of the issues that continually bedevils the members of the Streetsblog Network is how to get drivers to slow down and pay attention.

bostonglobe.jpgPhoto by Michele McDonald of the Boston Globe via How We Drive.

Tom Vanderbilt, author of the book Traffic and keeper of the How We Drive blog, writes about one such effort in the community of Needham, MA. As the Boston Globe reports, Needham is posting signs in school zones that feature a child’s drawings and hand-written plea to "Slow Down!!! You May Hurt the Future."

Vanderbilt has this to say:

Part of me can’t help but to look at those “child-like” signs, meant to engender feelings of empathy for the nearby children, and think they almost say more about the drivers. We often hear about how children are “unpredictable” and do things like cross at inappropriate moments, but
to look at the behavior of drivers through these school areas it is they who seem to be behaving without the appropriate amount of control and risk-awareness.

Do you think signs like the ones in Needham might trigger better behavior in otherwise apathetic drivers? Or do you agree with one of Vanderbilt’s commenters, who wrote: "These signs are more effective at appealing to people’s better natures, but not everyone HAS a better nature. We need bollards here in Mass."

Also today on the network: Transportation for America has a handy table comparing the House and Senate transportation stimulus proposals; Hub and Spokes reports on how stimulus funds might pay for transit operating costs in the Twin Cities; and The Overhead Wire has some thoughts on Obama’s sprawl pronouncement, which got the network so excited yesterday.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

There Is No Right to Unimpeded Fast Driving

|
How do you explain the outrage some drivers feel when they have to slow down for a few seconds for a cyclist or a passing pedestrian? There seems to be an ingrained sense that people outside of cars violate the natural order of things, and the natural order of things is motorists sailing uninhibited to […]

How Much Do Bicyclists Really Slow Down Drivers?

|
What’s really slowing these cars down? Probably not bikes. Photo by richardmasoner via Flickr. What is it about bicycles that drives some motorists so crazy? Anyone who’s ever ridden a bike more than a handful of times in this country has experienced it. The honking, the rude remarks, the vehicles speeding past with drivers shouting […]
When people who bike get behind the wheel of a car, Photo: John Luton/Flickr

What Do Drivers Really Think of Cyclists?

|
There's ample research out there backing up the safety benefits of streets with protected bikeways and slow car speeds. But what about the critically important yet less tangible factor of individual attitudes -- how does the mind of the person behind the wheel affect driver behavior toward cyclists? A new report from Portland State University looks at the question.

America’s Big Fat Road Problem

|
America has a fat problem. You knew that, right? But it’s not just the people who are fat. It’s the roads. That’s the subject of a very insightful post from Streetsblog Network member Tom Vanderbilt, author of the book Traffic and keeper of the blog How We Drive. He makes the connection between the two […]