Transportation Mar 13, 2023 at 4:58 pm

Cars Have Become an Excuse for State-Sanctioned Lawlessness

Cars get very angry here... Charles Mudede



"But what do we read about in the mainstream papers?"

The "mainstream papers" love to discuss increases in traffic fatalities. Whenever the NHTSA or Washington Traffic Safety Commission releases a report reflecting such an increase, you can count on extensive coverage.


You cannot decouple “the economy” with actual labor and necessary goods. We could have stayed COVID-vigilant forever, but who would grow our food, who would teach our children? Who would literally keep the lights on via fixing power lines or maintaining the hydro dam? Who will tend to the psychosis that isolation and solitude creates for humans denied social contact, purpose? Forever COVID-vigilant didn’t even work out for communist China who had to go through the work of getting sick/building immunity to being cases down again. Completely unworkable concept on many levels.


“These drivers just don't give a fuck. It's down to you or them. And they have the power to kill you.”

Welcome to South Seattle, Charles dear. it’s always been that way down here. And the more they increase the density and the more they restrict the streets, the more it bleeds over into them residential side streets.

By all means, Bazinga dear, let’s start seeing the toxicology reports on the killed and wounded pedestrians.


One could also observe that mainstream papers are oriented toward the perceived interests of the upper middle class and the rich, who are the main buyers of newspapers.* Although bourgeois people aren't immune to traffic "accidents", I suspect they're less liable to them than poor people are. Safety provisions tend to be better in more affluent neighborhoods: sidewalks, crosswalks, neckdowns, flashing yellow caution signals, etc. This happens because, of course, public officials in the USA are generally more responsive to the concerns of people who have more money.

I'm a survivor of a traffic "accident". When I was seven years old, my mother, older brother, and I were crossing a street in a marked crosswalk when we were run down by a car, with major medical consequences. This happened not in our own cozy, bourgeois neighborhood but elsewhere in the hideous monument to the personal automobile known as Los Angeles. Other such "accidents" had occurred at the same location, but a lawyer advised my father that suing the city for negligence would probably not succeed. Much as "boys will be boys", "cars will be cars", doncha know.

*For example, several years ago, Alex Pareene pointed out regarding The New York Times:

"The company's media kit - the PR materials designed to convince brands to purchase ads in the paper or on their website ... reports a median household income of $191,000 for readers of the paper and $96,000 for the website."


As Pareene noted, "The paper's target audience explains everything from its bizarre fixation on elite private universities and the behavior of the students attending them to its unshakably windshield-obsessed perspective on transit issues, despite covering the only American city where a majority of households don't own a car."


The Stranger complaining about lawlessness? The same outfit which endorsed a candidate for City Attorney who’d promised domestic violence could happen without consequence in Seattle? The same place which just last week, told citizens of Seattle to STFU about fentanyl smoke on busses, even though it’s a blatant violation of state law? That Stranger?

Guess what, Stranger writers? Your various unearned privileges no longer protect you from the urban hellscape you gleefully visited upon everyone else. Enjoy!


“But this lawlessness is simply permitted. You can't sleep on the street without making the news, but you can constantly break the vehicle laws with near impunity.”

So, more cops busting people over traffic infractions?


tensora dear, I wasn't being facetious. I really do think that if we want to address the issue of pedestrian safety we need to look at the behavior of the pedestrians. We can't do much to prevent impaired or demented people wander into roads, but we may be able to correct real problems in the street design.

Totoman, as someone who continued to largely report to work during Covid, my life was pretty much unchanged. But I completely understand the reaction on the part of the government. We really didn't know what we had on our hands, and there was absolutely no leadership on the presidential level.


Ryan Packer's also on Mastodon.


@9 -- We need way more automated enforcement. You speed, you get a ticket. You run a red light, you get a ticket.

The other thing we need to do (which takes a lot longer) is design our streets for safety, not maximum speed. It means reversing the pattern that has existed for years. It is counter intuitive. It is easy to think that wide, straight streets are safer. As a driver, it is easier. But this ease of driving actually encourages people to go way too fast, and this leads to more accidents, especially ones involving innocent pedestrians or bikers.

In short, we need to start doing what other countries do.


Its not difficult:
(1) bicycle lanes protected with permanent bollards
(2) pedestrian crossings and Pike Place Market protected with retractable bollards
Drivers will learn quickly or wreck their cars
For more, see/follow the World Bollard Association


I've biked down both Beacon Ave S and S Spokane St on Beacon Hill many times. And I have to admit getting more paranoid.
If the driver smashes a bike- it's a dented car and traffic ticket - maybe higher insurance premiums. But if I get hit - the damage to my bike is the least of my concerns.
Maybe I'll live long enough to see truly safe and seamless bike routes throughout Seattle (hint- Burke-Gilman) but considering the decades-old Master Bike Plan has been underfunded for years, I'm not holding my breath.


All of our legislators drive to Olympia.

They don't care about what you want.


@18: Contrary to Charles’ implication, the purpose of lockdown and masking was not to “beat COVID.” It was to manage the rate of new infections (“flatten the curve”) so that the number of seriously ill persons at any one time would not overwhelm hospitals. Prior to deployment of an effective vaccine, the assumption was always that everyone would eventually get infected.


"What if we fail to stop the erosion of cities by automobiles? What if we are prevented from catalyzing workable and vital cities because the practical steps needed to do so are in conflict with the practical steps demanded by erosion?
There is a silver lining to everything.
In that case we Americans will hardly need to ponder a mystery that has troubled men for millennia: What is the purpose of life? For us, the answer will be clear, established and for all practical purposes indisputable: The purpose of life is to produce and consume automobiles." - Jane Jacobs


"... focusing on the cars,
which, for reasons that have
yet to be properly determined, are
in a state that makes no room for patience."

Chas as a Ped
have you Any Idea
how HARD it is to lift
one's foot Off the Pedal?

AND Lose all that
precious Momentum?

we ARE our Cars
& you can even
Ask all those
PR types.


I HATE it when peeps
Tailgate me in
the fucking


You're assuming drivers don't care to abide the law, while the reality is that most of us are doing the best we can with badly-designed signage and intersections.

Many people simply don't know the more arcane laws that pertain to all the weird-ass situations you find in downtown Seattle. Left turn on a red light... is it okay if the street you are on is 1-way and the crossing street is also 1-way? I bet over 50% of drivers don't know because such a situation isn't something anyone outside of downtown Seattle normally encounters; there are no such intersections of one-way streets in suburbia, so suburbanites don't know the rules. You could claim every driver should have every conceivable traffic law memorized, but that just isn't realistic -- people only remember things they use frequently.

Many of them are probably also simply not seeing the red lights, due to the usability/noticeability problem inherent to the way such street lights are uniquely implemented in downtown Seattle. Over here in suburbia, lights hang over the middle of the road over the intersection, so that's what we subconsciously expect to see and watch for. A tiny little light on a post off to the corner is neither particularly visible/noticeable nor in the expected location that the rest of everything uses. I can't count how many times I've almost blown through one myself while driving around downtown Seattle simply because they are so unexpected and unnoticeable -- especially when there's already so much other activity (pedestrians, bikers, weirdos on street corners waving flyers around, etc) overwhelming the visual senses, and especially when you're squinting around trying to read a tiny street sign on the opposite side of the intersection because you're turned around and lost and trying to find your way around an unfamiliar place.

Seattle needs to see this issue for what it really is: bad design. If you want people to stop for lights, make them big, bright, obviously located, and impossible to miss. If you have oddball intersections that require familiarity with laws most people won't know, add a helpful sign like "NO LEFT ON RED". These are the kinds of should-be-obvious improvements that would save lives.


Yes, driving IS difficult and most drivers are paying attention.
Unfortunately there are many cases where you wonder if the drivers have their head on straight.
Note in the Twitter clip the drivers might not see the red arrow following into the left turn But there’s also a No Turn on Red sign that is much larger than the red arrow.
Many times I have had to wait on sidewalk directly next to the car - while the driver looks the other way at oncoming traffic, waiting to floor it as soon as he can zip into traffic. Is he going to look for pedestrians? Who knows?


@13: "The other thing we need to do (which takes a lot longer) is design our streets for safety, not maximum speed."

Sounds reasonable. But then the cities move to blanket lower speed limits just squeezed more traffic off the main arterials and through neighborhoods. Aurora used to be the fastest North/South route for many of the places I go. But with the lower speed limits (and the resulting higher traffic density), it's easier to move a few blocks East or West to miss the mess. Even if those speed limits have dropped to 20 MPH.

Yeah, designing Aurora for safety (and maybe restoring it's old speed limit) would be the way to go. But good luck with that. Where are you going to get the width for those bike lanes and sidewalks? When auto repair businesses have no qualms about parking a vehicle inthe_bus_lane_ to do a brake job (they have an street parking lots).


@32: “Charles is asserting something else entirely.”

Oh yeah; I was just having some fun, by showing he’s still wrong, even after having been given benefit of the doubt. @18, you’d already covered how no one “beat COVID,” no matter what political or economic system they had. Charles simply ignores this context, because it contradicts the point he wants to make.

I’m waiting for him to explain why “… the permitted lawlessness of [homelesss encampments]” is a good thing, and how “[t]heir economic importance is way above the death and destruction they cause.” Somehow I doubt he’ll get to that anytime soon.

(It’s not as if Charles himself ever actually cared about controlling the spread of COVID, either; here’s his celebration of drinking at Flowers by Wire, shortly before King County Health Department shut it down for, you guessed it, spreading COVID:


I was watching the videos... what a hot mess.

Planters, two sets of opposing bike lanes, a totem pole of signs and no less than three separate lights for traffic, pedestrians and bikes.

Little wonder a driver becomes confused... they are trying to focus on traffic, an obstacle course of planters, the totem pole of signs, opposing bike lanes going both north and south on a one way arterial and three sets of lights controlling an intersection.

SDOT has made a pig's breakfast of the situation.... in fact this confusing mess has made it more dangerous than ever before.


@37: It’s the Protected Bike Lane on Second Avenue. I’ve ridden and driven that section of Second Avenue many times. The two bicycle lanes both run in opposite directions to the left of the barrier. The single row of planters protects these bike lanes. In each case, there is a “No Turn On Red” sign next to a traffic light with a red arrow pointing left, and a green arrow pointing up. It’s very clear the vehicles in question should not be turning left at that moment.

(In the second video, there’s also a vehicle parked in the spot nearest to the turn, but as you consider car storage to be a legitimate use for space on the street, you simply ignored this, and the hazards it causes.)


@37 - Completely agree. I ride my bike AND drive my car in the exact intersection.
@27 - There is a big sign that says no turn on red, but you must realize that the main light is GREEN for cars, so it's utterly confusing.

As a biker and pedestrian, I can attest to how 'hollier than thou' our general Seattle population is. Folks act like they have never bent or broken a rule in their lives (either in a car or on a bike). Accidents can have consequences, sometime deadly. Bikers and pedestrians in Seattle need to get get the hell out of the way if a car does not see them, not initiate contact like this idiot did. Ride and walk with your head on a swivel.

OK - I sound like a Fox News junkee at this point, which is not the case.


I had an encounter with a cycling enthusiast on S Spokane and Lafeyette the other day. I was driving eastbound, minding my own business and at the posted speed, when the cycling enthusiast came down from Jefferson Park and, without stopping, hit the flasher button to engage the crosswalk. By this time I was in the intersection and was not about to stop for that jerk, so I kept going. He flipped me off and screamed something, but I didn't care. The cycling enthusiasts need to learn to share the road and take their turn.


The motoring enthusiasts need to learn to share the road and take their turn. And accept the responsibility that comes with commanding a vehicle than can squish a human to a pulp with the twitch of a toe.

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

Add a comment

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.