Monday, February 20, 2006

Suburbs: Unsafe at Any Speed

Unless you live under a rock (in which case how the hell do you have internet access?), you are likely to catch at least a glimpse of the local news either via TV, radio, or the WWW. If you have paid attention to said news, you're likely to see the same thing every day: "Car accident sends two to hospital," "Fatal Accident, Driver Charged," "Pedestrian Killed by Motorist," etc. These stories are aired so often, I typically pay no attention to them while waiting for a story of real substance which usually never comes. This morning though, made me think differently.

Yesterday evening, 20-year old Shawn Beach was killed riding his bicycle home from work as a Manager at the Pittsford McDonald's. He was hit by an SUV that was getting on to I-590 North from Monroe Avenue in Brighton. Apparently, the driver of the SUV will not be charged because Shawn was wearing all black. Funny, I thought not yielding to pedestrians and bicyclists was against the law and that speeding onto an expressway on-ramp was a ticketable offense, especially on such a relatively dense roadway as Monroe Avenue. This post is not about Shawn however, and it is not about idiot SUV drivers whom I lambasted in an earlier tirade. This post is about the popular notion that it is safer to live in the suburbs than in the city.

I admit it, you are more likely to be a victim of a violent crime if you live in the city. But that alone does not make the city a less safe place to live than the suburbs. Accidents relating to weather, terrain, and vehicles must be considered. Checking local media outlets over the past week, I came across at least three fatalities and four injuries sustained in accidents involving automobiles in the suburbs. There were likely many more accidents in our suburbs that went unreported because no one was seriously injured and the accidents didn't tie up traffic. Conversely, in the past week, according to the local media, there were two shootings and one violent assault in the city - there were no murders. So who is really safer?

It is also important to note that while the local media spent considerable news time on the youthful victims of violent crime in the city last year, no time was spent discussing the number of children killed or injured in car accidents (let alone other accidents) in the suburbs. Don't get me wrong, I am concerned about violent crime and its impact on the city and our quality of life, but the perception that crime is all that goes into the equation when considering safety is thoroughly ignorant and needs to be debunked. Recent studies have shown that people are more likely to be killed or injured in suburbs than in inner cities. I don't have the citation/link available, but I remember a study that showed the suburbs of Dallas to be the least safe place to live in America when all factors (violence, auto accidents, weather, etc.) were taken into account. Other suburbs were at the top of the list as well. So parents, if you're listening and if you care about your children, please do the right thing - raise them in the city.