Streetsie Awards: Results, Part Two

You’re back! I hope the first day of the new year was everything you’d hoped. Here at Streetsblog, we’re wrapping up the 2014 Streetsie Awards.

First, the Streetsie for Most Disappointing Decision goes to:

As REM would say, it's crazy what you could've had, Nashville. Rendering of an AMP bus rapid transit stop from Facebook, via ##http://nashvillepublicradio.org/blog/2013/07/01/brt-dummy-post/##Nashville Public Radio##
As REM would say, it’s crazy what you could’ve had, Nashville. Rendering of AMP bus rapid transit stop via Nashville Public Radio

Nashville. Advocates started out the year worrying that city officials were going to water down the plan for center-running bus lanes in the AMP BRT project. By the end of the year, the situation was even more dire. Mayor Karl Dean, previously one of AMP’s major boosters, announced in October that he wasn’t going to pursue funding for it in the next year, punting the question to the next mayor while simultaneously making it more politically difficult for any successor to take it on. So, that sucked.

Favorite Success Story From an Unlikely Place

Lakewood, Ohio, a city of 51,000, makes due with no school buses, thanks to thoughtful planning. Image: Lakewood City School District
In Lakewood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, thoughtful planning means kids can get to school in a healthy way and the city can save money. Photo: Lakewood City School District

Lakewood, Ohio, which has no school bus system because every child lives within walking distance of school. The district considers walkability “one of their brands.” Nationwide, only 13 percent of kids under high school age walk or bike to school — a steep drop compared to previous generations of students. It’s comforting to see at least one suburb bucking the trend.

Most Pressing Task for 2015

Building Vision Zero into a national movement. The Vision Zero movement started with a national campaign, so if Sweden can do it, why can’t the United States? A national symposium in October got the juices flowing but no one has yet figured out just what role Congress and U.S. DOT have to play in eliminating traffic deaths.

Note that “passing a long-term transportation bill” wasn’t even one of the options for voting because, really, who expects that to happen in 2015? I mean, Congress, please, go ahead and surprise me and I’ll be the first to withdraw this prediction.

Hell on Wheels

Brandon Majewski was 17 when he was killed in a collision with an SUV. The driver is now suing his family. Photo: National Post
Brandon Majewski was 17 when Sharlene Simon killed him with her SUV — and then sued his parents over her own emotional distress. Photo: National Post

Sharlene Simon, who killed 17-year-old Brandon Majewski with her SUV while he was riding his bike and then sued Majewski’s grief-stricken parents over her own ”great pain and suffering,” won the Hell on Wheels Streetsie Award. And man, it’s hard to think of anyone more deserving. The “Stand by Sharlene Simon” Facebook page asserts, “It has been determined that the bicyclist’s negligence is the proximate cause of Sharlene’s PTSD and therefore the cost of counseling will be covered by settlement proceeds.”

Simon, by the way, faced no charges related to the crash. Which brings us to our next Streetsie award:

Worst Policing

Now, this was quite a year for biased and abusive policing, and no one would claim that bicyclists and pedestrians bore the brunt of it. But there were still some pretty sick definitions of justice out there being perpetuated by the men and women in blue, and here in DC we saw some of the worst of it.

The DC police had the audacity to ticket a dead man, who had been killed on the John Phillip Sousa Bridge across the Anacostia River after one of last winter’s many snowstorms. The city had neglected to shovel the snow on the sidewalk, so 61-year-old Joseph Brown was walking in the street, and a driver hit him with a pickup truck. But Brown was the one the DC police decided to go after — even dead. A few months later, the DC police graced the community with a repeat performance, ticketing cyclist Evan Wilder in the hospital after a crash that he claims was the result of road rage.

Worst Doomsday Sprawl Scenario

A few inches of snow turned Atlanta positively post-apocalyptic last winter.   Photo: ##http://atlurbanist.tumblr.com/post/75045650070/politico-looks-at-the-makings-of-atlantas-snow##ATLUrbanist##
A few inches of snow turned Atlanta positively post-apocalyptic last winter. Photo via ATLUrbanist

Atlanta. Granted, car-dependency and decentralized growth certainly weren’t the only causes of last January’s disastrous snowjam, but it’s easy to see that a more compact city with more varied transportation options could have weathered the storm differently. In a walkable city with robust transit options and more development concentrated in the urban core, perhaps not so many children would have spent the night separated from their parents. Perhaps fewer parents would have spent the night curled on grocery story floors, unable to get home.

The “Don’t Call It a Comeback” Award

Tulsa's "Street Cred" festival took over its massive downtown parking crater. Photo: Zach Stoycoff, Tulsa Chamber of Commerce
Tulsa’s “Street Cred” festival took over its massive downtown parking crater. Photo: Zach Stoycoff, Tulsa Chamber of Commerce

Maybe we just get a little misty about this one because we like to think we had something to do with it, but Tulsa, Oklahoma, winner of Streetsblog’s 2013 “Golden Crater” for its stunning expanse of downtown surface parking, held an Open Streets event right in the middle their parking crater. The organizers cited the cheeky award as a “wake-up call” and held a design competition, which they called the Golden Crater, to transform the area.

Most Devastating Loss

James Oberstar, who served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for 36 years, died in May at the age of 79. He was the architect of federal walking and biking programs and led the negotiations on the last major transportation bill the country has had — SAFETEA-LU in 2005. He will be remembered, among many other things, for his great passion for the outdoors and for active transportation.

  • Notwithstanding the outrageous ticket to the dead man, DC police were correct to ticket Wilder. He has plenty of videos, including the one that resulted in his ticket, where he’s riding recklessly and irresponsibly.

  • buckguy

    Atlanta (have lived there) is unfixable. Despite being humid and outwardly rainy, it’s running out of water. The road system is poorly designed and engineered. Racism and classicism keep people from using a transit system that’s actually more functional than many people think.

  • The story of the death of Brandon Majewski is horrifically tragic but the 17yo and his friends were riding bikes on a rural road with NO LIGHTS and few reflectors. 17 is old enough to operate a car in most states and provinces so he should have known the rules of the road. If the car driver had been driving with no lights Streetsblog would have been calling for her head.

  • Dave

    Well gee, a child (18 is the age of adulthood) made a mistake in not biking absolutely perfectly… and thus deserved to die. (Meanwhile, I’m sure that Sharlene was driving 100% perfectly, with no defects in her steering or on her car, just prior to killing this kid… so she’s completely blameless.)

  • PortlandRes

    Tanya, you should be ashamed. I read your account of what happened to Brandon Majewski and was outraged, but with additional investigation I found that it’s not at all as you make it appear. You chose to leave out important details and use loaded phrases when you described her killing him with her SUV. When I see a journalist doing this, I tend to never trust anything they write after that.

    It turns out that the truth really is a lot more complicated than you would have us believe. This could easily have happened to any of us, including those of us who are very careful about sharing the road and care very much about others’ well-being. And it’s safe to say we would be very traumatized by such an event and require counseling. While you claim that she is suing his grief-stricken parents, isn’t it really the case that she is suing the insurance company?

  • Dave

    Sharlene Simon is a corrupt cop’s wife and thinks she will get away with murder. It is the resposibility of the driver to watch for pedestrians and bicycle riders are considered pedestrians because they have no MOTOR!!! The B!tch deserves to get a taste of her own medicine. F’in (unt.
    RIP Brandon Majewski

  • Chester Field

    If she is “just suing the insurance company”, don’t you think that at the very least the policies of the victims/parents will drop, or, increase. You just want to give this vile woman a pussy pass.

  • Chester Field

    You are such an IDIOT and mangina. The new article I read said witnesses familiar with the road can easily see something as small as a frog crossing the road. One of the cyclists was even wearing a YELLOW jacket!

  • I love these responses. Truth hurts, huh? Nobody here can believe that a bicyclists could actually be responsible for their own tragic fate. I feel horrible for Brandon and his family and friends but I’m sorry, he and his friends seem to be about 90% responsible for the driver not seeing them. And then people go so far as to hypothesize a dozen and one distracted driving scenarios trying to pin blame on the driver, as much of tool as she is.

    And since when is a yellow jacket a legal substitute for properly functioning lights? I ride at night all the time on dark rural roads and I NEVER had an issue with drivers because they can clearly see me with my proper assortment of lights. Time to take responsibility for yourself out there.

  • Dags

    If you do a very little research you will find that 1st She was drinking before driving home… But it was okay because her Cops husband was in the car behind her… And after she ran them over did Not stop… She kept going because her Cop husband told her to just get home…
    She’s a disgusting woman that should have been charged with dui and careless driving, but because she’s cop family got away with murder…

  • Dags

    It could happen to any of us, If we Choose to drink and drive as she did…

  • Dags

    She was drinking and drove home.. After running them down she did not stop, WHY?? Because she knew she had just run over kids and she was dui..
    As soon as you get behind the wheel of a vehicle and you’ve been driving, you are no longer able to claim no wrong doing..

  • Green Jean

    Sharlene Simon is suing the dead and injured boys families outright. What insurance company? I know the road in question and have driven that stretch myself. It’s a very long flat stretch of road and the boys would have been visible for a long distance in her headlights. The bikes did have reflectors and the boy’s jackets had some reflective material. On that road, you can see a mouse run across in your headlights. She drove up from behind and mowed them down with her SUV. It’s obvious she was drunk or distracted, having just left a party at a pub…and her cop husband following behind her in his car to make sure she got home okay. When the local cops arrived, they did NOT give her a breathalyser and let her go home with her cop husband, yet the good samaritans who had stopped to try to lend aid were kept there for hours by the police. And, by the way, neither Sharlene nor her cop husband called 911. This was done by the passing good samaritans who came upon the incident in their cars and stopped to help. Jules Simon, Sharlene’s cop husband, sat with her in her SUV for some time (probably to get their stories straight) and did NOT lend aid to the dying/injured boys. I suggest doing a lot more reading on this particular story before rendering an armchair opinion. Sharlene and Jules Simon are suing the dead and injured boys families as a pre-emptive strike to guard themselves from lawsuits by the boy’s families. The Simons are the most shameful examples of human beings; suing not only the families of the dead and injured boys for HER pain and suffering, but suing the boys individually, even the dead boy, Brandon AND she’s suing Brandon’s older brother who committed suicide because he couldn’t cope with his little brother’s death. That’s simply egregious and shameful.

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