Good morning, or whatever the hell time it is.
Nice day for a ride, isn't it?
Yes it is.
Alas, I regret to inform you that today's post mostly serves as notice that I won't be posting next week. You know, next week. That's the one that starts on Monday with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:
(Nuclear blasts and our new president are both orange. Interesting.)
Anyway, if there even is a Monday, January 23rd, that's the day I'll be back, and if there's not, well hey, we had a good run.
Nobody can take that away from us, though I suppose they can pee on it.
In the meantime, since I can't bear to look forward I've been looking backward instead. As you've no doubt gathered from some of my Brooks blog posts I'm a little bit of a local history Fred. In its way this is even more addicting than bikes, and of course it dovetails right into genealogy, which is a real time-suck. (It's also even more delusional than Strava, because what's more self-absorbed than poring over your family history like you're the goddamn royals?) Indeed, I found out recently that my great-grandfather was apparently a New York City streetcar conductor back in the year nineteen hundred and ten--or at least that's what he told the census taker, who, it should be noted, had pretty bad handwriting:
So naturally after that I spent like the next six hours watching sick trolley edits:
Did you spot the guy on the bike?
These damn dandies in their bowler hats think they're Mile-A-Minute Murphy!
Anyway, as you can see, it was quite a free-for-all out there, and as it happens 1910 is the first year the city started tracking traffic fatalities. Here's how things were when my great-grandfather was plying the streets with one of those change dispensers around his waist:
Clearly, New York City has come a long way in mitigating traffic fatalities. According to an article from the New York Times dated September 2, 1913, the city endured 471 traffic fatalities in 1910. Of those, 112 were caused by automobiles, with another 148 from streetcars and 211 from horse-drawn vehicles. Of those it was estimated that some 95 percent were pedestrians struck in the streets. That's with a population of about 4.7 million — a bit more than half what it is today.
Meanwhile, here's what 2016 looked like:
The overall number of people killed in traffic crashes, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, drivers and passengers, was 229 last year, down from 234 in 2015, according to preliminary data from the city. Pedestrian deaths, which accounted for the largest share of fatalities, increased last year to 144, from 139 in 2015. Cyclist deaths rose last year to 18, from 14 in 2015.
I suppose 229 is a lot better than 471, especially when you consider the population of New York City was only 4,766,883 in 1910 and it's estimated at around 8.5 million people now. Then again, given all the advancements in traffic control since then (which don't seem to have existed in those days) you'd think we could do a lot better than we are. Either way, I suppose it helps put the present into some kind of perspective.
And with that I'm outta here. I'll see you back here on Monday, January 23rd. Enjoy the week ahead if you can, ride safe, and be sure to dodge those trolleys.
--Wildcat Rock Machine