I need a drink after reading this article about drinking and walking

drinking stats
Screen capture Mother Jones

The usually solid Mother Jones looks at the issue of people who get drunk and then get hurt, in this case by cars. Now there is no question that people do tend to do more stupid things when they are drunk than when they are sober. But there is no law against walking while drunk, and where would you rather they be? I certainly would prefer to see them getting some exercise and walking it off instead of being next to me in the subway or as they call our local bus route, the Vomit Comet. Instead, Maddie Oatman explains why drunks get dead:

Drunk walkers are much more likely to engage in risky behavior like crossing against a sign, jaywalking, or lying down in the roadway, says Dan Gelinne, a researcher at University of North Carolina's Highway Safety Research Center.

Really. They are also just as likely to cross at a crosswalk or a green light and get killed by a sober but inattentive driver, but that stat at the top about the 34% of the victims in the crashes being drunk doesn't say where they were. It just says they are dead, because that is what happens when cars hit people.

Taras Grescoe, who knows a lot about urbanism and wrote about it in Straphanger, also knows a lot about drinking; his earlier book The Devil's Picnic is all about getting drunk or high. He is an authority on both subjects and tweets:


I could go on and would, but Angie Schmitt of Streetsblog said it so much better in a comment on Mother Jones:

There is a whole field called urbanism about making cities safe places to walk -- for everyone, whether you are an alcoholic, or a child, or an elderly person, or you have disability. Instead we excuse these deaths and blame the victim at every opportunity and that allows us to continue this kind of structural inequality where we could laughingly discourage drunk people from leaving the house for fear that they will be run over and killed, or children for walking to school without orange vests, or we blame mothers of little boys who were run over from not walking half a mile to the nearest crosswalk. NHTSA has done a real disservice to pedestrians and critical thought here and it's disappointing to see Mother Jones mindlessly perpetuating it.

Angie also notes that "People behaving badly (mostly) means poor urban design." Or as I have called it, Death by design. Read it and weep at Mother Jones.

And read about orange vests and blaming mothers in related links.

Tags: Cities | Urban Planning

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