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Breakfast links: Green and moving


Photo by Andrew|W.
FBI might move to Greenbelt?: Plans for a mixed-use TOD on the Greenbelt Metro parking lots are the subject of legal disputes. Court documents revealed that the developer and WMATA have talked with the FBI about building a new HQ there, which would occupy the entire site. (Greenbelt News Review, Matt')

Barracks or community garden?: The Marines want to expand their Capitol Hill barracks, but their ideal site is a community garden that 60 families use and which has a long waiting list to join. The Marine plan would relocate the garden to a spot in the shadow of the SE/SW Freeway that would also be dug up by CSX's Virginia Avenue tunnel project. Garden supporters are trying to persuade the Marines to pursue a different site. (ChewsWise, Lynda)

Adroit opposition keeps LeDroit static: A plan to renovate a large house and add some new townhouses in LeDroit Park is off after HPO staff recommended changes that would force zoning variances, plus neighborhood opposition. (Left for LeDroit)

Dose of bad news for pedestrians: A woman was killed at 1st and M, SE yesterday. Police haven't yet released the name of the victim, who killed her, or in what kind of vehicle. (DCist) ... Drivers tend to speed along that stretch of wide M Street to try to beat the lights. That's why it's important to make M Street a "complete street." ... Drivers also struck pedestrians in two places on Route 1, at Cherry Hill Road in College Park and Florida Avenue (where Route 1 is Rhode Island Avenue) in DC.

He lied, but didn't assault: The NYC police officer who shoved a cyclist during Critical Mass was convicted of lying, but acquitted for assault and harassment. (Streetsblog)

Bike parking USA: It only took DC USA two years to install some bike racks in the underutilized garage. (Prince Of Petworth) ... DDOT transformed a car parking space into bike parking added some on-street bike parking in some formerly unused curb space in front of the new WABA offices. (WashCycle)

Plop art?: The Washington Post art critic says the new sculptures on the 1200 block of New York Ave NW aren't meaningful enough, calling them "plop art." The Straight Line argues that "thoughtful" wouldn't really work in a median strip, but prefers trees.

No Phone Zone: Oprah has declared today "No Phone Zone Day" in an effort to cut down on distracted driving, and Maryland will participate with messages on electronic highway signs. (Baltimore Sun)

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David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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Am I missing something or is the link to the "make M Street a complete street" article not right?

by Shipsa01 on Apr 30, 2010 9:39 am • linkreport

If the FBI were to relocate to Greenbelt, would this nix the mixed use for a secure facility like their current downtown location? Obviously they could not limit access to the metro station, but would it still include any retail or residential on site?

by Scott on Apr 30, 2010 9:43 am • linkreport

Does anybody else see the irony of using electronic highway signs to discourage drivers from being distracted while driving?

by Eric F. on Apr 30, 2010 9:44 am • linkreport

So, MD is adding messages to the overhead signs about no phone day. Ironic, since the signs themselves were recently linked to causing distractions recently in some instances and I've seen it happen myself when everyone slams on brakes to read the sign which almost causes wrecks.

by Q on Apr 30, 2010 9:45 am • linkreport

@Shipsa01: Fixed, thanks.

by David Alpert on Apr 30, 2010 9:48 am • linkreport

For more info on the Virginia Ave Community Garden and Park, there is a Facebook page. Development plans and dates of community meeting dates are posted.
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Save-Virginia-Ave-Park/116827151678390?ref=ts

by Lynda on Apr 30, 2010 9:53 am • linkreport

DC also is participating. They have at least two signs in NW.

by Bobby on Apr 30, 2010 9:56 am • linkreport

@Lynda: Thanks. I've added that page as another link.

by David Alpert on Apr 30, 2010 9:58 am • linkreport

"Police haven't yet released the name of the victim, who killed her, or in what kind of vehicle. "

Is it really too much to ask that you avoid this sort of yellow journalism here? Every single time there's an auto/ped/cylist accident, the language you use necessarily casts it as the fault of the driver and vilifies them.

The only information AT ALL about the circumstances of this terrible accident that I have read are from the comments on the DCist article, where someone who identifies themselves as an eyewitness said "She was jaywalking and in the thirdlane of traffic."

I am not making any assumptions about the veracity of this statement, but at the very least, it says, just possibly, the driver was not at fault.

This sounded like a horrible accident. I am sure the driver of the vehicle, who did not leave the scene of the accident, was also quite traumatized. You have no idea at all whether or not the driver was at fault. That person, who is a real person too, is very likely suffering much emotional trauma and could be in no way responsible for the accident. But regardless of the facts, which you admit you do not know, you have already labelled him a "killer."

I think that really stinks and it's really getting very old.

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 10:04 am • linkreport

I never said anything about fault. A driver operating a vehicle killed a pedestrian. We don't yet know whether that driver did so negligently or criminally, or just accidentally. I'd like to see the reports from the Major Crash Investigation unit once they're done.

You're the one attributing a judgment about fault to the simply factual statement "a killed b." When a police officer kills a suspect during a shootout, we still say that the police killed the suspect, even if they didn't want to kill the suspect and even if they did so completely appropriately in defense of the public safety.

by David Alpert on Apr 30, 2010 10:09 am • linkreport

Dave, come on.

"M street drivers claim a life"
"Who killed her"

That is not language you to describe someone who you have not yet decided is guilty. You can stand there and argue on the technicality of your use of language, but it is clear that there is a point to your choice of words.

DCist: "Pedestrian fatally struck"
Wapo: "Pedestrian dies in morning accident in DC‎", "Pedestrian fatally hit by vehicle"

You: "Driver claims life" and not yet known "who killed her"

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 10:18 am • linkreport

There's an interesting contrast between the debates over guns and automobiles. It's the defenders of guns who say "guns don't kill people, people kill people." But the defenders of automobiles get upset when someone says that cars don't kill people, drivers kill people.

by Ben Ross on Apr 30, 2010 10:18 am • linkreport

Your comparison to police killing a suspect makes no sense. In that case, they did, in fact, try to kill them. It may have been justified, but that's entirely different than a traffic accident.

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 10:19 am • linkreport

Calling it "a traffic accident" is also presupposing no fault. You're using language to bias the conclusion just the way you accuse me of doing.

We don't know if it was "an accident" or if there was fault. As you said, there's just one DCist commenter. Was the driver paying attention? Speeding? On a cell phone? Was there a reason the pedestrian was in the roadway? Would the pedestrian have survived if the driver had been going slower? If the road design had been different?

It's not "just an accident" unless we know the answer to these. Maybe the pedestrian is at fault, just like the suspect in the shooting could be responsible for getting himself killed.

by David Alpert on Apr 30, 2010 10:23 am • linkreport

"But the defenders of automobiles get upset when someone says that cars don't kill people, drivers kill people."

Guns are a weapon with only a single use: to kill people.

If you favor using language such as "A driver killed a pedestrian," then will you also favor such language as:

"Jogger killed by airline pilot"
"WMATA worker killed by metro train operator"

It makes no sense. It doesn't tell you what happened. Cars, planes, and airplanes are not weapons. Sure, they can kill people and can be used as weapons (though mostly in action movies), but using language like that is confusing and inaccurate.

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 10:24 am • linkreport

"Calling it "a traffic accident" is also presupposing no fault"

Fine, then call it an "incident" until you know what happened. I think most people are accustomed to using the word "accident" to describe any situation involving cars regardless of whether or not someone was at fault.

That is why we have terms such as "no-fault accident", to differentiate it from one in which someone is at fault, but if it makes you feel better then I'm fine with "incident" too. But "killer" is clearly biased.

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 10:27 am • linkreport

No Jamie, it's not different. At least not in the sense you are arguing. Justification and intention are irrelevant to the fact that someone was killed by someone else.

If anyone was calling the driver a murderer then you'd be right, but no one is saying that. They are simply saying that one person driving a car hit and killed someone else.

by BeyondDC on Apr 30, 2010 10:28 am • linkreport

Accident

"an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap: automobile accidents."

Nowhere in the definition of "accident" does it say that there's an assumption of no fault. It's just not intentional. Unless you think the Don's Johns operator set out to kill someone that day, then it's still an accident even if he was negligent.

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 10:29 am • linkreport

"Justification and intention are irrelevant to the fact that someone was killed by someone else."

By your logic, then, we should start reporting every Metro suicide like Dave reported this accident:

"Metro train operator claims another life"

"It's not yet known which train operator killed the suicide victim"

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 10:31 am • linkreport

In line with Jamie - I'm assuming that the blog author's would be ok with the following language right after a plane crash (before any investigation): "Pilot kills 250 people..." After all, it was a plane being operated by a pilot that crashed causing the deaths.

Simple fact that saying "who killed her" presumes fault, justified or not.

by Local on Apr 30, 2010 10:33 am • linkreport

@ Jamie

I don't agree with you. A person is dead, therefore they were killed by something/one.

People can be killed by heart attacks or falls from 30 story buildings or by cars operated by another person. This person was killed by another person operating a vehicle.

by James on Apr 30, 2010 10:40 am • linkreport

You can stand there and argue on the technicality of your use of language, but it is clear that there is a point to your choice of words.

I agree with Jamie. How dare you, David, use words with meanings that convey what actually happened in reality, as opposed to the comforting euphemisms we've come to expect from third-rate publications attuned to the expectations of suburban commuters!

Besides, as Jamie pointed out, if someone is standing in the road, they're fair game. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and drivers have got drive 10 mph over the speed limit.

by oboe on Apr 30, 2010 10:43 am • linkreport

@James, to reiterate, then, you approve of the following headlines to describe recent incidents:

"Jogger killed by airline pilot"
"Teenager killed by metro train operator"
"11 oil rig workers killed by chief oil rig safety operator"
"250 airline passengers killed by airline pilot"

I really don't understand why anyone thinks this is useful. At least, anyone who doesn't have an agenda of writing about traffic accidents in a way that is biased.

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 10:44 am • linkreport

When a person jumps in front of a train they are not being killed by someone else. They are killing themselves.

I said "Justification and intention are irrelevant to the fact that someone was killed by someone else." When someone kills themself they are not being killed by someone else, so the claim does not apply.

by BeyondDC on Apr 30, 2010 10:48 am • linkreport

@ Every commenter since 10:04:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/22984501@N06/2961175776/

by Michael Perkins on Apr 30, 2010 10:50 am • linkreport

To be fair, BDC, we don't know those details here, either.

by Alex B. on Apr 30, 2010 10:50 am • linkreport

Fair enough. If this turns out to be a suicide then David should change the text.

Jumping in front of a car on a relatively low-speed surface street in the middle of the city (instead of say, a highway) seems a very unlikely way to commit suicide, however.

by BeyondDC on Apr 30, 2010 10:52 am • linkreport

"When a person jumps in front of a train they are not being killed by someone else. They are killing themselves."

Oh, really? What if the person tripped and fell in front of the train? Would it be OK then to say that the metro operator killed them, since they weren't trying to kill themselves?

What difference does it make?

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 10:52 am • linkreport

"Jumping in front of a car on a relatively low-speed surface street in the middle of the city (instead of say, a highway) seems a very unlikely way to commit suicide, however."

So sorry that I used suicide as an example, because of course you will nitpick to an absurd level the nuances of intent.

Pretend that someone tripped and fell in front of the train. Now, would you say that the train operator killed them? Why?

Of course the pedestrian didn't try to kill themselves. Nor did the driver try to kill them.

The entire basis of your argument seems to be on the INTENT of the actors in the situation. Which exactly proves my point. If the use of the "killed" language is without any assignment of intent or fault, yet your justification for using or not using it depends on intent, then you're clearly full of it.

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 10:55 am • linkreport

I understand why David keeps posting the pedestrian death links. However, his tireless insistence that driving a vehicle is analogous to using a deadly weapon is both misplaced and overly argumentative.

Nobody is saying we need more pedestrian deaths.

1. Back when Wells was proposing criminalizing all vehicular accidents involving pedestrians, I looked up some stats and found an average of 9-10 deaths a year that way in the District. Some years as high as 15. Seems as if we are going to a high year?

2. Are we under-reporting deaths in the suburbs -- where the majority of pedestrians deaths take place -- because of lack of source material and the fact that a lot of them are illegals?

3. David makes a good point that the spot where the pedestrian was killed was where drivers speed up to time the lights. His solution is to put more road furniture in and slow traffic down. There was an interesting study done that found drivers (and bikers) sped up after a slowdown to make up for lost time. Is this the right solution?

4. From the Dcist picture, the vehicle looked like a truck -- and a flatbed tow truck with a car on it from that. Could be wrong. Vehicles like that don't speed much. However, are trucks more dangerous than cars?

5. What percentage of accidents this year have been the result of pedestrian error (jaywalking, drunk). How many are questionable (very late night/early morning/headphones) etc.

David's rhetoric seems borrowed from the biking community. I don't see that as useful when talking about pedestrians. We are all pedestrians at some point in DC, it is just a question of how much we talk. I don't see the creation of a "pedestrian" community as helpful for safety matters, and rhetoric designed to turn "pedestrians" against "drivers" is silly and misplaced.

by charlie on Apr 30, 2010 10:57 am • linkreport

@ Jamie

I think the problem here may be that drivers are all too used to thinking of everything as an 'accident' and having any unsafe or bad action by them considered by others to merely be an 'accident'.

'Accident' is severely overused to refer to altercations/crashes/close calls in vehicles. The word 'accident' seems to suspend someones responsibility or remove them as the causal actor in a scene.

This communal abdication of will or responsibility among society in reference to drivers by calling everything an 'accident' is a false balance to ones rights.

by James on Apr 30, 2010 10:58 am • linkreport

If you can peg the fault to the person killed, then it is their fault and not the fault of the driver, regardless of vehicle. However, it still doesn't matter whether it was an accident. Intent is not pertinent.

"Pedestrian hit by vehicle" implies it is the pedestrian or the vehicle's fault. It is no less biased or pre-judgemental than saying "driver hit pedestrian".

If you object, propose something that is truly neutral.

by BeyondDC on Apr 30, 2010 10:58 am • linkreport

"Guns are a weapon with only a single use: to kill people." -Jamie

Guess I've been using them wrong all these years just punching holes in paper targets. Cars may not be weapons designed to kill people, but they're far more effective, and in fact kill more people every year than guns do. Around 10,000 more people are killed by automobiles each year than by firearms. I'd love to see million mom marches for car safety, but it doesn't happen - because fear and ignorance sells more than actually focusing on what cases lives to be lost. I am heartened to see Oprah and her followers discouraging cell phone usage while driving though.

by ontarioroader on Apr 30, 2010 10:59 am • linkreport

Mr. Fenty, tear down that FBI building! Unless some in the preservation community want to keep it as an example of Brutalism's most tyranical (& brutal) building.

by Thayer-D on Apr 30, 2010 10:59 am • linkreport

Word is spreading around USDOT that the victim might have been a much-beloved contract employee here. Normally, I could appreciate the importance of wording and such, but regardless of who did what or who inflicted what upon whom or was at fault because of whatever, surely the sheer volume of wonderful people who are being struck and killed by automotive traffic has to be addressed, and not just by engineering. There needs to be a consensus that this is not an acceptable circumstance, and we need to attach a stigma to hurting vulnerable people that might at times step over the lines of fairness.

by darren on Apr 30, 2010 11:02 am • linkreport

"Guess I've been using them wrong all these years just punching holes in paper targets."

Try a hole puncher. Much cheaper to operate per hole, and less likely to kill someone by accident.

"Around 10,000 more people are killed by automobiles each year than by firearms."

Hilarious.

Yes, it's true - twice as many people are killed in car accidents compared to guns.

You might as well say that hospitals are the biggest killer on earth, since hundreds of thousands of people die in them every year.

Now, how many hours per year does the average person spend in a car? How many hours per year does the average person spend holding a firearm?

While it may be hard to get an accurate estimate of # of hours per year spent holding a firearm, I'd say that as a factor of usage, guns are about a gazillion times more lethal than cars.

Seriously, this is the lamest argument for cars vs. firearms ever.

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 11:08 am • linkreport

@Thayer-D

Mr. Fenty, tear down that FBI building! Unless some in the preservation community want to keep it as an example of Brutalism's most tyranical (& brutal) building.

I think you'd have to direct this to the GSA and the Feds rather than DC Government folks...

by Alex B. on Apr 30, 2010 11:08 am • linkreport

Hospital deaths aren't generally preventable.

Car-related deaths are, even the accidents.

It's a false analogy, and you know it.

by BeyondDC on Apr 30, 2010 11:10 am • linkreport

I'm familiar with that intersection of Cherry Hill and Rte 1. On both streets the speed limit is 30 (or 35) but drivers almost universally drive 45 or more. It also has a good amount of pedestrian traffic but is very hostile to pedestrians in other ways then the avg. car traffic speed. As an example of the speed of a typical driver, 2 weeks ago I was drivin a car and stopped for someone to turn left in front of me and the driver behind me was going so fast that when she struck my car it was totaled.

I'm just commenting on the environment. There are many ways this area can be improved for the safety of both pedestrians and drivers, begining with road design. Its almost as if it was purposefully designed for maximal risk of collision.

by Bianchi on Apr 30, 2010 11:11 am • linkreport

Oh - by the way, ontarioroader, about 200 people died in DC last year, compared to 212 deaths on Mt. Everest since 1900.

Obviously, by your logic about gun vs. auto safety, climbing Mt. Everest is far, far safer than living in DC.

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 11:12 am • linkreport

"car-related deaths are, even the accidents. It's a false analogy, and you know it."

Umm, yes, I know it. That was my entire point. That saying "cars are a bigger killer than guns" is absurd because they have nothing at all to do with each other, in terms of purpose and usage patterns.

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 11:14 am • linkreport

"I think the problem here may be that drivers are all too used to thinking of everything as an 'accident' and having any unsafe or bad action by them considered by others to merely be an 'accident'."

How many people in a car actually go out and think "I want to hurt someone today?" Come on, pretty much any incident where someone gets hurt involving a vehicle was . Yes, there are non-accidents where drivers menacingly hit bikers, pedestrians, or other vehicles, but those are the vast minority of infractions.

Certainly, many people engage in risky driving practices, but that doesn't mean it wasn't an accident. NFL players engage in risky physical activity, but when someone lands on someone else's knee and tears an ACL, that's still as much of an accident as if it's a bunch of pee-wees playing flag football.

I think Jamie's point about intent is well taken. You wouldn't call the driver who hits a suicidal pedestrian a "killer." Calling the driver in this situation a "killer" presupposes that certain situations DIDN'T happen.

How about:
Police haven't yet released the name of the deceased, the responsible driver, or the vehicle involved.

by SDJ on Apr 30, 2010 11:16 am • linkreport

I think it's fascinating how government agencies are expanding into the suburbs: NIH, FDA, the BRAC plan and expansion of Bethesda Naval, the Pentagon, the DEA, CIA, US Geological Survey, NIST, etc. and now possibly the FBI.

One of the reasons that the southern portion of the District was returned to Virginia was because federal law prohibited the installation of federal government agencies on the Virginia side of the Potomac. To this day, one of the prevailing reasons behind maintaining a federal district is so the national government could maintain its own security and not locate the power of government into any one state. But now, with vast swaths of federal government headquarters and offices outside of D.C. (approximately 90% of federal government employees, even excluding the USPS and military, are located outside the D.C. area), why do we even bother to pretend that there's still a need for a federal enclave?

by Adam L on Apr 30, 2010 11:17 am • linkreport

Vehicles like that [commercial vehicles] don't speed much.

Surely you're joking? Or do you mean don't speed much in relation to the de facto speed limit of "posted plus 10"?

David's rhetoric seems borrowed from the biking community. I don't see that as useful when talking about pedestrians. We are all pedestrians at some point in DC, it is just a question of how much we talk. I don't see the creation of a "pedestrian" community as helpful for safety matters, and rhetoric designed to turn "pedestrians" against "drivers" is silly and misplaced.

If DCs traffic laws were pedestrian-centric, speed limits on surface streets would be 20 mph, and there'd be an aggressive evaluation of crosswalk timing and behavior across the city. There are areas of DC where pedestrians are routinely stranded on 5' medians while they wait a minute or two to be able to continue crossing a 6 lane highway--with heavy traffic going 10+ mph over the speed limit. Until that situation is resolved, I propose a moratorium on the phrase "jaywalker".

In any case, the idea that pedestrian activism is silly is, frankly, silly. It's here, and if the areas around Petworth, Columbia Heights, and Capitol Hill are any indication, it's already changing the face of the city. DDOT is slowly coming around. And it's not because pedestrians have been silent.

by oboe on Apr 30, 2010 11:19 am • linkreport

"I think the problem here may be that drivers are all too used to thinking of everything as an 'accident' and having any unsafe or bad action by them considered by others to merely be an 'accident'."

Right, but that's not an accident (pardon the pun).

Drivers in our culture are encouraged in their belief (by popular culture and the law) that as long as everyone follows the rules, everyone's safe. Of course, the purpose of "the rules" as they are written is to ensure unimpeded auto traffic. So if someone is "jaywalking," while they may not "deserve" to be killed, it's no one's fault but their own. After all, that's against the rules--and drivers can't be expected to watch out for rule-breakers. They're going much too fast for that.

Of course, if we took an approach to the "rules" that wasn't solely focused on getting cars around as fast as possible, the streets would be safer for everyone. But of course, that's impossible--the idea of making drivers operate at a safe but reasonable speed (say 15-20 mph in the city) is a long way off.

As it is, pedestrians and cyclists *are* natural allies: cyclists are the only thing slowing down the cars. ;)

by oboe on Apr 30, 2010 11:27 am • linkreport

I think Adam L. just raised a good point about questioning the need for a federal enclave. I would rather discuss that than hassle over semantics.

Personally, the Greenbelt News Review report was the first I'd heard about the possibility that the FBI might move to Greenbelt. I knew that the FBI laboratory had moved out of HQ to Quantico a few years ago -- I figured that was for security. (My one visit to the downtown FBI lab was the only time I've ever needed two visitor badges and two escorts following me closely in a government building.) I'm curious as to what my fellow Greenbelters think of putting the FBI on the other end of our own "bridge to nowhere."

by Greenbelt Gal on Apr 30, 2010 11:29 am • linkreport

Claiming that "driver hit pedestrian" is more accurate or precise wording is silly. The driver did not, in fact, hit the pedestrian. The car did. If the driver got out of the car in a fit of road rage and punched the pedestrian then we could correctly say that the driver hit the pedestrian.

I think have a pro-bicyclist, pro-pedestrian viewpoint is admirable, and a good thing for the city. Twisting English out of shape to make that point is silly.

by jcm on Apr 30, 2010 11:32 am • linkreport

There's still plenty of 'need' for a Federal enclave. Congress, the White House, etc - they aren't moving anytime soon.

The notion that the entirety of the Federal government could be contained within the enclave is also somewhat absurd, thus the simple fact that many agencies have moved out doesn't change the fundamental purpose of a Federal jurisdiction.

The roles of government agencies are changing, as is the role of the District. As the CIA and FBI have high security needs, then they're not going to be a good fit for a dense, urban area (see the ATF's building and the interaction with NoMA).

The more interesting question to me is about the nexus of security and urbanism (this was an issue with Northrop Grumman as well), the tradeoffs between the two, and the role of design in bridging the gap.

by Alex B. on Apr 30, 2010 11:38 am • linkreport

It's pointless arguing about David's pedantic use of language declaring drivers at fault for just about any accident involving cars. His bias and viewpoint is pretty straightforward to anyone who has spent any time on this website.

What remains is a very sad situation for both the family of the victim, as well as for the driver.

by Fritz on Apr 30, 2010 11:41 am • linkreport

@oboe

"So if someone is "jaywalking," while they may not "deserve" to be killed, it's no one's fault but their own."

Why are you conflating "accident" and "fault"? You can be a part of an accidental occurance that is still your fault.

The accidental nature refers to intent. The fault refers to cause.

Hyperbolic situation to prove my point:
Suppose a St. Bernard jumps up to greet his owner at the door and knocks him over and the owner hits his head on the table - killing the owner. Yes, the dog is at fault, but it was still an accident.

A very cautious driver who obeys all laws (admittedly, there are very few) can still be in a situation where they might injur someone. They don't want to, but they may not be able to avoid it. They might be at fault, but it will still be accidental.

The next time you undercook your meat and give someone salmonella from uncooked chicken, I'll quote you. Because by your logic, oboe, that not only was that your fault (as I would content), but it certainly was no accident (as you would content).

by SDJ on Apr 30, 2010 11:48 am • linkreport

*contend.

duh.

by SDJ on Apr 30, 2010 11:49 am • linkreport

Look, I'm not trying to make it sound like the driver was necessarily at fault. I understand that many people see it that way. We probably need different language.

However, the typical language of "vehicle crosses street, hits pedestrian" also unfairly dehumanizes the situation. A person was, indeed, in control of that vehicle; it's not a robot vehicle.

We seem to need a new verb. Something like, "A driver schmorgled a pedestrian, who died." Schmorgle: To strike with a motor vehicle while operating said vehicle, possibly with or without intent and/or with or without negligence."

Rather than doing the Fritz thing and just trying to personalize and poison the debate with accusations for the fun of being a jerk, let's try to find some actual way of talking about these things that suitably addresses the concerns about robot-car language while also not sounding like attempts to preemptively blame the driver.

by David Alpert on Apr 30, 2010 11:55 am • linkreport

@SDJ, I think you still don't understand.

As far as the wingnuts are concerned, there is no such thing as an "accident" when a car is involved. Because a car is potentially lethal, driving a car is no different than firing a gun into a crowd.

However, when a cyclist kills a pedestrian, it is a "tragic crash."

Note the headline: "Bicycle Hits, Kills Pedestrian in DC"

Not "Bicyclist"

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 11:58 am • linkreport

Look, I'm not trying to make it sound like the driver was necessarily at fault. I understand that many people see it that way. We probably need different language.

That's what I don't get. Let's set aside the pedestrian/driver issues. If you talk to this driver a decade from now about this incident, they're going to say, "When I killed that woman, it was one of the worst moments of my life." Not, "when my car killed that woman." It's not a matter of intent, or David trying to poison the well, it's a matter of speaking the English language in an honest and forthright manner.

Which makes me think that folks like Fritz and Jamie are more interested in stirring things up and intentionally "not getting it" rather than anything approaching an honest debate.

by oboe on Apr 30, 2010 12:01 pm • linkreport

@Alex B

"There's still plenty of 'need' for a Federal enclave. Congress, the White House, etc - they aren't moving anytime soon."

That is but for a tiny portion of Washington, basically the ceremonial core. The point of a larger District was to protect those vital national interests. Alexandria was meant to be a first line of defense against enemy ships on the Potomac, and the series of forts that was constructed around Washington (especially during the Civil War). Today there are numerous contingency plans for the continuation of government in the unlikely event of an invasion. There's no real need to protect the capital other than the symbolic and psychological effect of an attack here. In addition, the federal government already has control over all property it rents or owns, including that property within states. Maybe a federal enclave made sense at one point, but it exists now purely out of nostalgia and a political unwillingness to do anything to change the city's status.

by Adam L on Apr 30, 2010 12:02 pm • linkreport

As Greenbelt Gal alluded to, FBI actually has locations many places in DC--among them the Washington Field Office, at Judiciary Square, and a couple of other facilities in Chinatown.

I can't imagine they'd move the HQ from where it is. Too convenient to Metro, White House, and Capitol Hill, too secure, and too much hassle to move.

by JB on Apr 30, 2010 12:05 pm • linkreport

Note the headline: "Bicycle Hits, Kills Pedestrian in DC" Not "Bicyclist"

Funny, I wasn't aware that David ran that other blog. Sure sounds like a situation where a "Bicyclist Hits, Kills Pedestrian" to me, though.

Again, I doubt if you asked that guy on the bike what happened ten years from now, he'll say "My bicycle killed someone." Not unless he's some sort of amoral monster.

by oboe on Apr 30, 2010 12:05 pm • linkreport

@oboe, you don't make your point by ignoring the arguments of others as just "stirring things up." Nobody has responded to any of the non-car analogies that have been made to point out the absurdity of talking about "the driver" and using the verb "killed" in this context.

Could you refer me to any other outlet describing this incident who says we don't yet know "who killed her", rather than the more neutral language "who the driver was?"

It's just ridiculous to assert that there's no "color" in the words that are frequently chosen here.

I notice that David changed the lead-in now, which is definitely far less vitriolic and I appreciate that.

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 12:06 pm • linkreport

"formerly unused curb space in front of the new WABA offices"

Except that's where people on bikes can safely pull aside and wait for the light without getting run the fuck over by people running the red light on right turns onto Columbia... like I do EVERY FUCKING DAY!

by Ferdinand Bardamu on Apr 30, 2010 12:08 pm • linkreport

@Jamie,

@oboe, you don't make your point by ignoring the arguments of others

If you had an argument, I would've assumed you'd have expressed it already. Instead we've got a bunch of hand-waving and nit-picking about "tone".

I had a pretty explicit point here, which was that everyone agrees--including the driver, whoever they are--that they, and not their vehicle, killed the pedestrian. The only ones to disagree are you and Fritz, who are concerned about the accusatory tone--which I'm not sure helps either the victim or the driver.

What's the point?

by oboe on Apr 30, 2010 12:13 pm • linkreport

"Again, I doubt if you asked that guy on the bike what happened ten years from now, he'll say "My bicycle killed someone." Not unless he's some sort of amoral monster."

I'm not really sure why this is relevant, at all.

By the same token, if you are walking home from work and get hit by a car, do you rush home and say "jesus, a driver hit me!" No. You say you got hit by a car.

What if you are in an accident with another automobile? Should we say, "a driver hit another driver on 395?" Only if they got out of their cars and got into a fistfight.

This is so absurd. You're really only convincing yourselves that this makes any sense at all.

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 12:15 pm • linkreport

@Adam L.

I just don't see what you're getting at. Things have changed? Needs have changed? Yes, they have. So what?

If all you're saying is that the District has evolved to something other than what was originally intended, then great. I don't think anyone would disagree.

by Alex B. on Apr 30, 2010 12:17 pm • linkreport

@Alex B.

The only point is that now that there is little need for a federal enclave, something should be done to eliminate the current feudal system. Greater autonomy, statehood, return to Maryland (if that were actually a possibility), anything other than continued federal dominance over a 68-square-mile parcel of a land for Congressmen to use as their own science experiment.

by Adam L on Apr 30, 2010 12:25 pm • linkreport

Now, how many hours per year does the average person spend in a car? How many hours per year does the average person spend holding a firearm?

Sounds like a great argument for reducing the amount of time that people spend in cars!

by Matthias on Apr 30, 2010 12:33 pm • linkreport

@David, If a woman has an abortion, do you say 'She killed her unborn child?" If not, why not? Note that there's even 'intent' present here. Using your definition of 'kill' it could just as easily be applied to the case of an abortion. Yet, I don't know of many people who would call the mother a 'killer.'

by Lance on Apr 30, 2010 12:35 pm • linkreport

Unfortuantely Lance, I think there are a LOT of people that would call her a "killer."

by Shipsa01 on Apr 30, 2010 12:38 pm • linkreport

That gets into the question of whether the unborn child is a person or not, which we don't need to argue here.

by David Alpert on Apr 30, 2010 12:45 pm • linkreport

Video didn't kill the radio star. Video makers did. MTV is innocent!

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 12:49 pm • linkreport

Lance FTW!

by oboe on Apr 30, 2010 1:42 pm • linkreport

@David That gets into the question of whether the unborn child is a person or not

hmmm ... I didn't think being a person was a pre-requisite under your interpretation of the word. What do you do when you use a pesticide? Or swat a fly?

by Lance on Apr 30, 2010 1:50 pm • linkreport

When you cut your hair, Lance, do you say you killed your hair?

I don't want to offend anyone by equating a fetus with hair — it's not at all similar — but destroying organic material connected to your body may or may not be "killing."

Also, there's a difference between "caling someone a killer" and "killing." You're not a "killer" if you kill an ant. Some people keep bringing up this issue of calling people a killer; I don't think saying "a killed b" is the same as saying "a is a killer." "Killer" does have a connotation that this is something the person often does, or does purposefully, or enjoys doing; that's not inherent in "a killed b."

by David Alpert on Apr 30, 2010 1:54 pm • linkreport

Dave, please explain to me what makes these situations different as far as the language used to describe the driver of the vehicle.

1) An individual steps in front of a bus intentionally
2) An individual trips and falls in front of a bus from the sidewalk
3) An individual is pushed in front of a bus
4) An individual is struck by a bus while crossing the street legally.

In none of these cases did the driver intend to kill the victim. Only in the fourth one was the driver negligent, which you wouldn't know until later anyway.

Why would you say the driver "killed" the person in some but not all of these situations?

by Jamie on Apr 30, 2010 2:00 pm • linkreport

@David:

Not sure why you have to personalize an attack at me. I can't believe you'd disagree that your regular use of phrases of how a driver "killed" a pedestrian or cyclist isn't pedantic, especially since people have regularly criticized it and you yourself acknowledge that you use that phrase to change the debate.

And, since you've edited the paragraph above to tone it down, I assume even you thought it went too far.

Likewise, I can't believe you'd disagree that you have a bias or viewpoint, particularly as it related to cars and roadways.

I enjoy arguing some points in order to understand the issue or b/c I disagree with the conclusions or logic.

And, as I said initially, it's pointless to discuss this issue, regardless of whether you use the perfectly acceptable word "accident" to describe this incident or invent some new word for it. Ultimately, a person is dead, their family is suffering, and the driver is very likely traumatized.

by Fritz on Apr 30, 2010 2:07 pm • linkreport

"crash" is perfectly acceptable too, and does not imply intention nor unavoidability.

by Bianchi on Apr 30, 2010 2:52 pm • linkreport

Guys, let's quit the pissing contest, hug it out and move on. Car crashes that hurt and kill people, including pedestrians=bad. Let's be more careful when we drive and when we are pedestrians and let's work to design our cities and towns to be safer for both and enforce the traffic laws we have for both.

There, at least I feel better now. Really, sorry to be snarky but these lines of argument are producing diminishing returns.

by mike on May 1, 2010 9:39 am • linkreport

It does get .... something, I don't know what, Mike, to read all this. It produces tension and sometimes like you, I just want to move on. On the other hand, it's useful to see the extremes of each of the arguments, and as someone who is very pro pedestrian, I find it refreshing that we are finally seeing, hearing, and participating in sticking up for pedestrian rights. This is a perspective that we have not seen vociferously argued before. And I say it is about time.

by Jazzy on May 1, 2010 10:29 am • linkreport

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