I dream of a world where nobody is ever killed or injured in a car accident.
It may seem strange hearing that thought from a personal injury lawyer. After all, I earn a living representing people who have been injured. If there were no car accidents, I would be forced to find another career.
However, having spent more than two decades working with people and families whose lives have been destroyed as a result of car, bus, and truck accidents, I would be more than willing to find a new line of work, if it meant these injuries could be avoided.
Unfortunately, as I look around at what is happening in our region, it is apparent that our political leaders are making the situation worse – not better. By reducing lanes of traffic on both main thoroughfares and local side streets, they are increasing congestion and gridlock. This results in bored, angry, and distracted drivers. We’ve lost important lanes on the I-90 bridge, on Pike and Pine Streets and Second Avenue in Downtown Seattle, and on important roads in almost all our neighborhoods. Now they plan to radically reduce the capacity of First Avenue in Downtown Seattle to build a new streetcar.
When I ask people, what is the biggest problem facing our region, the answer I get most often is traffic. Traffic makes collisions more likely. It makes people angry and frustrated, and impacts our quality of life. Traffic also affects our economy, making it harder to deliver goods, services, and people to where they need to be. The problem is obvious, but the politicians have failed to do anything about it. In fact, they are making it worse.
I believe our City and State governments can improve the flow of traffic through our region, thus reducing injury-producing collisions, by increasing the capacity of our existing roads. This can be done without building a single new road (although we should consider doing so where geography allows). Instead, the City of Seattle is reducing the capacity of our roads, replacing lanes of traffic with dedicated transit-only lanes and barricaded bicycle lanes. While I believe a mix of transportation options benefits everyone, we cannot afford to do so at the expense of existing traffic capacity.
Another government policy that is increasing the likelihood of serious injuries is the bike-sharing programs currently spreading throughout Seattle. These bikes are heavy and unwieldy, and they don’t come with helmets. Many of them are located Downtown, or in other dangerous, high-traffic areas. The result is inexperienced bicyclists riding unfamiliar bikes on some of the most dangerous roads in our region. As an injury attorney, I know that when a bicyclist is hit by a motor vehicle, the result can be truly catastrophic injuries. Our governments, both State and Local, are doing nothing to reduce the likelihood of such injuries. Instead, they are making the situation worse.
I will continue to dream of a world in which nobody is injured by motor vehicle collisions, but until that day I will do more than dream. I pledge to actively lobby the government, at all levels, to reduce congestion, improve the flow of traffic, increase bicycle safety, and generally work to make driving and commuting safer and more pleasant for everyone in Western Washington.