#71 How to Reduce Cyclist and Pedestrian Deaths: Nicole Gelinas

“Vision Zero” is the highly ambitious plan put in place two years ago by New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio. The goal: no traffic deaths by 2024.

America's largest city is nowhere near reducing fatal crashes to zero, but great progress has been made since 1990.  "The good news is that we've gone from 701 deaths back then to an average of 245 deaths a year under the de Blasio Administration," says urban economics and transportation researcher Nicole Gelinas in this "Fix It" episode.

Nicole is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. She writes for City Journal, The Washington Post, LA Times and a bunch of other publications.

In this show we look at why so many pedestrians and bicycle riders are killed on the streets of U.S. cities and what we can learn from safety initiatives in Sweden and elsewhere.

The bad news is that New York is far safer than almost every other American city. 

"You're three times more like to be killed in Atlanta whether you're in a car or walking - and you're two times more likely to be killed in LA," says Nicole.

We also learn the lessons of the Times Square traffic and pedestrian redevelopment initiative and why it turned critics into fans.  During our show Nicole Gelinas unpacks surprising research on the pros and cons of wearing bicycle helmets on busy urban streets. 

Solutions:

  • Data shows that redesigning streets to slow down and calm traffic is the best way to prevent injuries and deaths.
  • Lower speed limits, especially in dense urban areas.
  • Invest in a comprehensive mass transit system, which will reduce crashes and improves the quality of life for city residents.
  • The old adage, safety in numbers is true when it comes to biking in traffic: bicyclists are safer when they ride in a group.
  • Cyclists should always wear lights to make themselves as visible as possible to motorists. 

#69 Migrants and Refugees: Our Response to a Global Crisis. Leonard Doyle

Too often, migrants and refugees are viewed as "other" - not like us. In recent days Donald Trump Jr. compared the Syrian refugee problem to a bowl of Skittles

In this episode, Leonard Doyle of the International Organization for Migration walks us through the worldwide crisis of tens of millions of displaced people, from families fleeing from war and terrorism to young men and women who overstay their visas in search of a better life.  We look at the definitions of these terms - so often glossed over in our discussions of the crisis.

Using personal stories and speaking from years of experience working with migrants, Leonard makes a powerful case for all of us to see migrants as people like ourselves. This is the first small step we can take in responding immense humanitarian challenge.

"When you say the word 'migrant' people tend to have an image in their head,"  Leonard tells us.  That may be a negative image "because there is so much toxic discourse about them from our quite opportunistic political leaders." 

Established in 1951, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has offices in more than 100 nations and works with governments and non-governmental organizations to promote humane and orderly migration, for the benefit of all.

The movement of peoples from much of Africa, West Asia and The Middle East “is the global phenomenon of our time," says Leonard. "It's kind of the last flick of the globalization monster in a way.  We had free trade in global goods and services. This is the bit they didn't plan very well... But people aren't stupid. They watch television and see a better lifestyle happening somewhere else. We've kind of empowered them with our globalized media and globalized trade."

A summit of world leaders at The United Nations this week put the migrant crisis more firmly on the global agenda. In his address to the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama called the refugee and migrant crisis "a test of our humanity."

This episode also considers the views of voters in the U.S. and other nations who are fearful that the rising numbers of immigrants from nations with distinctly different cultures could lead to lower wages, rising unemployment and higher crime.  Dismissing or marginalizing their concerns can lead to to populist anti-immigrant rage.

Join Richard, Jim and Leonard for a lively and often moving conversation.