Yesterday I wrote about the tragedy in Buffalo where a three year old was killed, and his five year old sister injured, when they were struck by a vehicle that had jumped the stroad. My objective was to point out how the governor's response -- an action I'm quite sure is a popular one -- doubles down on the stroad mentality: lower speeds (as a street) and erect guard rails (as a road). We're stuck in a destructive mindset and our cities won't get systematically better until we grow out of it.
The Buffalo case isn't the most bizarre response I've seen, however. I've been sitting on the one I'm going to share today for a while -- there are just so many -- but now is a good time to put it out there. I apologize in advance because this one is even more sickening than yesterday's.
Out of Orlando; here's the lead from the article:
Florida Highway Patrol troopers said Lily Quintus, 4, of Orlando died following a car crash at a day care in Orange County Wednesday afternoon.
A small memorial for Quintus was set up at the KinderCare center by Wednesday night.
Robert Corchado, 28, was named a suspect in connection with the crash that injured 15 at the day care on Goldenrod Road near University Boulevard. He may be trying to leave Orlando, authorities said.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers said they believe Corchado, the driver of a silver Dodge Durango, rear-ended a Toyota Solara, which crashed into the building.
The car wound up inside the front room and was removed around 6:45 p.m.
The driver of the Toyota wasn't injured.
Eight children were taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital.
Please note that I'm not sharing this one because it involves children -- if my goal was to shock you with tragic child death stories, I could do that multiple times a week because that's how many kids are killed on our stroads -- I'm sharing it because of the policy response.
Here's the view of the daycare (on the right) from the stroad.
Car leaves the stroad, smashes into another car which smashed into a daycare killing one and injuring many others. What do the adults here do to keep their kids safe?
Do they slow the cars? Do they address the incompatibility of having highway speed vehicles on a nasty, complex stroad just feet from the doorway to the facility? Do they look at the sidewalks adjacent to vehicles traveling at highway speeds and think it strange, even barbaric, that we would place anyone -- let alone young children -- in such a dangerous environment?
Where once there was only a hedge, now five heavy planters and six concrete spheres stand guard in front of the building, presenting a barrier designed to protect those inside should another vehicle come careening toward it.
And plans are underway that could make such barriers standard at day-care centers around Orange County.
That's right. We now have our children ensconced behind a barrier of protective concrete as if they were in the US Green Zone in Iraq. Is this really how we intend to raise the next generation?
And to my broader point -- which is that our responses never question the stroad environment but instead take fast-moving cars in a complex environment as the absolute, unquestioned way things must be -- the decision to armor the daycare was not made without deliberation or an understanding of the extent of the problem. Again from the Orlando Sentinel article:
In the days after that incident, Mayor Teresa Jacobs directed county staff from various departments to look at how much of a public-safety threat vehicle crashes pose to "vulnerable" populations such as children and seniors.
The KinderCare crash was the result of a mix of factors — an initial crash involving two vehicles, followed by one driver failing to brake and hitting the day care center.
The numbers are pretty stark," he said. "What we found is nationally there's 60 a day, causing almost 4,000 injuries and 500 deaths a year."
Locally, the team found 73 incidents in which vehicles hit buildings in unincorporated Orange County over a 24-month span, resulting in 37 people requiring a trip to the hospital.
They found an additional 1,800 "road departures" — instances of vehicles losing control and leaving the roadway, but not striking buildings — over a 15-month span.
Understand what you're reading: 500 deaths per year from cars leaving the road and striking a building and our response is more concrete barriers?
The main methods to safeguard structures against vehicle impacts would be walls, planters, purpose-designed outdoor furniture or bollards, which are posts or spheres designed as traffic impediments.
Most bollards are roughly waist-high, and can be made of concrete, steel, cast iron or even recycled plastic. The spherical bollards are a common sight outside of stores such as Target.
Drozd said bollards generally cost about $450 apiece. He estimates it would cost about half a million dollars to protect all the vulnerable day-care facilities in unincorporated Orange County.
Future day care centers would be expected to incorporate the safety features before opening. But funding for existing facilities to make the upgrades could come largely from government grants, Drozd said.
So let's raise everyone's taxes to build more stroads so then we can raise everyone's taxes more to provide grants to build concrete barriers to keep us safe from cars careening off our stroads. All so we can have crappy fast food, low wage jobs and national chain stores.
Aren't you sick of this? #slowthecars