As I was beginning to draft a new article about pedestrian safety and the need to change the car culture in Minnesota, including drivers’ sense of entitlement to roadway use to get to their destinations as quickly as possible, my husband brought me this article written by his grandmother, Sara Hirshfield Kessel, for the Buffalo (NY) Enquirer in 1902*.
1902 article from the Buffalo Enquirer, we think was written by Sara Hirshfield Kessel. Found in a scrapbook of her articles, but we can’t be sure she wrote it, since her byline was not attached.
Although clearly much has changed since that time, the pleasure of driving, the desire to go faster, and the inattention to other road users sounds very similar to the attitudes of drivers today. What has changed, however, is the speed of cars and the design of roads to help move traffic as quickly as possible. The result is there are many more crashes that result in fatalities or serious injuries, especially to our most vulnerable road users, pedestrians and bicyclists, as opposed to the few scratches and the broken wagon shafts described in the 1902 article.
This is why it’s so important to change 100 years of a car culture that today results in an unacceptable number of deaths and injuries. Please enjoy the article and respond with ideas on ways to launch a massive campaign to change the car culture, involving media blitzes, community calls to action, and increased investment in making our streets safer for all users.