Drunk Driving and SXSW…

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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12 Responses

  1. NewDealer says:

    Wasn’t the drunk driver also a SXSW performer?

    We need much better public transportation in this country. I think it should be possible for a city of 200,000 or more to have good public transport and not require a car except to leave the city. It should also be possible to be a commuter from the burbs using public transport. In NYC, you can take Metro North, NJ Transit, or the LIRR to the city if you live the burbs. I’m sure there are also people who take Amtrack from Philly. Connecticut can use public transport to get to NYC as well.

    In SF, we have Bart for some of the East Bay and Penninsula. We also have Cal-Train. There is the Ferry for Marin and some other areas and AC transit buses but it is not enough and plenty of people still drive their cars especially if they live in Napa or Sonoma and plenty of people commute from Napa and Sonoma everyday.Report

    • Chris in reply to NewDealer says:

      Austin has a pretty good public transportation system for a city its size. Not good enough, but getting better (adding BRT and more commuter rail over the next few years).

      I’m not sure better public transportation would have prevented this though. This was a kid with a history of bad decisions, drunk, in a stolen car, with outstanding warrants. It looks like he panicked and thought only of himself and what being pulled over would mean for him. He went through barriers, through cops on foot, and then accelerated through the crowd (the police say the dash video shows no brake lights) for two blocks, until his car became inoperable.

      I had been at that club all day. The line was huge when we left around 7:30, and from what I understand had only gotten bigger for Tyler the Creator, and all of the space on the street outside that wasn’t taken up by the line was taken up by people walking or listening to the outdoor stage from the street (it’s hidden from the street by a large wall, but you can hear any show there just fine from the street and the opposite sidewalk). His blood alcohol level wasn’t that high. Unless he was on some other stuff, he had to have been aware of what he was doing, because there was no open road space. It was people from building to building across a wide downtown street. He chose to go through them fast. Buses and trains ain’t gonna help with that kind of decision making and callous disregard for human life.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Chris says:

        Unless he was on some other stuff, he had to have been aware of what he was doing

        To offer a very, very heavily qualified (and highly speculative) defense, maybe some combination of alcohol(plus?), panic, and watching the mirrors to keep tabs on the cop cars caused him not to notice the pedestrians. When I took my first driving test, I turned right into the path of a crossing pedestrian because I was checking the other direction for oncoming traffic, and I wasn’t even drunk or trying to evade police. Fortunately the examiner stopped me, and I passed on my next try.

        Or it could be the callous disregard for human life thing. Probably that.Report

      • Chris in reply to Chris says:

        That might be possible for the first barricade. He went from 9th to 11th through hundreds of people after blowing through the barricades.

        I think panic was the big thing, compounded by alcohol, and resulting in not caring that he was hitting dozens of people at a relatively high speed for a two block span.

        I mean, the crowd was so thick he would have need able to see anything but people in front of him. I have pictures of the crowd from earlier in that day and from Friday, taken from 10th looking toward 11th (the direction he drove), and you can’t see eleventh in the photos. And that was during the day, when the crowds were thinner.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to NewDealer says:

      I think it should be possible for a city of 200,000 or more to have good public transport and not require a car except to leave the city.

      What would you consider to be a model city for an example of how public transportation would work in a city of 200,000? I’m having trouble seeing how this could work, especially at night.

      In NYC, you can take Metro North, NJ Transit, or the LIRR to the city if you live the burbs.

      That’s because everyone’s going to the same place. Don’t suburban commuters to NYC usually drive to a Park & Ride?

      In SF, we have Bart for some of the East Bay and Penninsula.

      I’ve never lived there, but my perception from visiting is that San Francisco access from the East Bay kind of sucks. On multiple occasions I’ve spent 15+ minutes waiting for a train to/from Oakland on a weekend night (the web site says they run 20 minutes apart), and the last train from Embarcadero leaves at 12:30.

      That would be another benefit of upzoning. In addition to pushing rents down, the higher population would make improvements to public transit more economically feasible. Which might push down rents even more by making the surrounding areas more attractive.

      Anyway, Austin has one-fifth the population density of San Francisco. If this is the best the hippie capital of the country can do with five times the population density, I think you’re asking a bit much from Austin.Report

      • I’m a pretty big fan of mass transit, and I *suspect* it could work to some degree in a town of 200,000. One problem would be, as you allude, the “especially at night” part.

        The town in which I went to undergrad had, I think, a population of about 80,000 people. I’m not sure if that included the ca. 20,000 students at that university or not. If it didn’t, we could say the town had about 100,000.

        It had, and to my knowledge still has, a bus-transit system that operated pretty well during the day, but stopped operating around 7pm on weekdays, earlier on Saturdays, and to a large extent didn’t operate at all on Sundays (again, if I recall correctly). My guess is it was largely there for the college students.

        That town was fairly walkable if one is in good health, able bodied, and doesn’t mind walking, say, 30 or 60 minutes to one’s destination. (I’m big on walking, so it personally didn’t bother me, but I know other people have different needs and capabilities.)

        In short, on that point, Brandon, I largely agree with you. I don’t know enough to have an informed opinion on the other points in your comment.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Getting to The City from the East Bay works well, because BART is convenient to most of the places I want to go: downtown, the Mission, the ballpark. As an alternative to Bay Bridge and downtown traffic, a 15-minute wait is nothing to fret about.

        The other direction is more problematic, because the East Bay is much less dense, and few if any of the stations have enough parking.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Ah. I’ve been spoiled by New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. Them’s good transit systems, but they have the density and high cost of car ownership to support it.Report

      • I live in Chicago, and my wife and I agree that owning a car is just too costly. Along with the obvious costs of buying the car, paying insurance, and doing (and worrying about) maintenance, there’s the problem of space (where to park) and the problem of other drivers. There’s a lot to criticize about Chicago (the reckless driving, streetlights-are-optional culture is one of them) but the transit system is usually adequate, assuming you live in a neighborhood not neglected by the city.Report

    • Chris in reply to NewDealer says:

      Austin, by the way, has a population sound 850k (and growing by a few thousand a month), with a metro population of a about a million more. It doesn’t have San Francisco’s metro population, so it doesn’t have a strong interurban transportation system (basically one train route and a few express buses to a few northern suburbs), but within the city itself, you can get just about anywhere by bus. The two people who were killed died a few yards away from a bus stop that serves four bus routes from the North and Eastern parts of the city.Report

    • Vikram Bath in reply to NewDealer says:

      Density is more important than population.Report

    • Kim in reply to NewDealer says:

      in nyc, you can take a private bus from Altoona, pa.
      two hours each way. what a commute.Report