bike crash
San Diego Police officers at the scene of an accident that left a bicyclist paralyzed in June. Photo courtesy OnScene.TV

In combating pedestrian and cycling safety, Circulate San Diego and the Vision Zero initiative give new meaning to tilting at windmills

Pedestrian and cycling deaths at the hands of San Diego motorists are at an all time high. Yet, these virtuous efforts continue to treat the epidemic’s symptoms rather than the underlying disease. The same can be postulated in terms of our homeless fiasco and even dockless scooters.

The problem remains in large measure a mental health issue. There is something unique in being encapsulated within a barrier of steel that brings out unmitigated aggression and brutality in the motoring public.

When a society and culture promote exercise on one hand and show disrespect toward those walking or cycling on the other hand, we have a serious mental health issue.

Sales of new cars continue to soar. Most San Diego residents own at least two automobiles. I’m a member of the million-mile club for exceeding one million miles walking, running and cycling in my lifetime. So as the old expression goes, I’m from Missouri and I’ve seen it all on San Diego streets.

My theory is that as motorists, we don’t exercise restraint of ego while driving. This is of psychological import. The nonprofit Circulate San Diego focuses on physical problems liked street design rather than the root cause being the motorist himself or herself.

Until we fully examine our own weaknesses, contradictions, and most importantly continued denial of how we drive with personal impunity, we will continue to reinvent the wheel.

The addition of stop signs, streetlights, crosswalks, traffic circles and signage will not solve the crises of spiraling pedestrian and cyclist deaths. It will take a revolution within our inner selves to see the truth of why we drive with unrecognizable barbarity.

It will take personal restraint and a setting aside of ego. As the famous cartoon character Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” In totality, we are our own worst enemy. These same principles apply to the scooter and homeless issues in our city.

As someone who walks, runs and cycles every day in San Diego, it’s clear that the majority of local drivers have no concern or respect for anyone outside their personal automobile. Vision Zero and Circulate San Diego are noble efforts, but no cure for our insidious disease of  driving like maniacs.

Daniel “Danny” Smiechowski is a Clairemont resident, prolific writer on education issues and former candidate for San Diego City Council.