Right of Way
Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America
Angie Schmitt ; Foreword by Charles T. Brown
Book Description Review Quotes Contents Events
The face of the pedestrian safety crisis looks a lot like Ignacio Duarte-Rodriguez. The 77-year old grandfather was struck in a hit-and-run crash while trying to cross a high-speed, six-lane road without crosswalks near his son’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. He was one of the more than 6,000 people killed while walking in America in 2018. In the last ten years, there has been a 50 percent increase in pedestrian deaths.
The tragedy of traffic violence has barely registered with the media and wider culture. Disproportionately the victims are like Duarte-Rodriguez—immigrants, the poor, and people of color. They have largely been blamed and forgotten.
In Right of Way, journalist Angie Schmitt shows us that deaths like Duarte-Rodriguez’s are not unavoidable “accidents.” They don’t happen because of jaywalking or distracted walking. They are predictable, occurring in stark geographic patterns that tell a story about systemic inequality. These deaths are the forgotten faces of an increasingly urgent public-health crisis that we have the tools, but not the will, to solve.
Schmitt examines the possible causes of the increase in pedestrian deaths as well as programs and movements that are beginning to respond to the epidemic. Her investigation unveils why pedestrians are dying—and she demands action. Right of Way is a call to reframe the problem, acknowledge the role of racism and classism in the public response to these deaths, and energize advocacy around road safety. Ultimately, Schmitt argues that we need improvements in infrastructure and changes to policy to save lives.
Right of Way unveils a crisis that is rooted in both inequality and the undeterred reign of the automobile in our cities. It challenges us to imagine and demand safer and more equitable cities, where no one is expendable.
"In a book that will sit comfortably on the shelf next to Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed, Schmitt provides an exhaustively researched study of the intersection of automobiles and pedestrians…[Right of Way] bravely exposes the human cost of public and political indifference toward pedestrian safety."
"An exposé drawing upon comprehensive reporting to articulate the root causes of a public health crisis."
"In a thoughtful, accessible style, Schmitt examines the factors contributing to rising pedestrian deaths and offers practical solutions to help make America's streets safer and more walkable."
"An excellent new book"
"There are many reasons to read Right of Way… Schmitt is one of the very best contemporary journalist-advocates writing on the built environment, whose skills are most obvious when digging beneath the numbers to tell the stories of humanity, not only to the illuminating the faces and lives of the departed, but also to the specific design and political failures that allow this carnage to continue unabated."
Planetizen: Top Urban Planning Books of 2020
"I am most often asked by well-meaning persons, usually racialized white persons, 'What can I/we do as allies to aid in the eradication of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in low-income and minority communities across America?' My short answer usually stresses the importance of intentionality, empathy, and the courage to act expeditiously. Henceforth, I will add to my list, 'Follow Angie'."
Charles T. Brown, MPA, CPD, Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor, Voorhees Transportation Center, Rutgers University
"Other countries have cars, other countries drive a lot, but no advanced nation succeeds quite like ours in murdering its citizens with automobiles. The reason behind this fact is deep yet simple: our urban streets are engineered to kill. Nobody explains this better than Angie Schmitt."
Jeff Speck, author of "Walkable City" and "Walkable City Rules"
Foreword by Charles T. Brown
Introduction: Outline of an Epidemic
Chapter 1. The Geography of Risk
Chapter 2. The Profile of a Victim
Chapter 3. Blaming the Victim
Chapter 4. The Criminalization of Walking
Chapter 5. Killer Cars
Chapter 6. The Ideology of Flow
Chapter 7. A Hard Right Turn
Chapter 8. Pedestrian Safety on the Technological Frontier
Chapter 9. The International Context
Chapter 10. Families for Safe Streets
Webinar: Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America – a conversation with author Angie Schmitt
Tuesday, 8 September 2020 - 1:00pm
Join America Walks September 8th (10-11am Pacific, 1-2pm Eastern) for a review and discussion of Angie Schmitt ’s new book, Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America . Angie was the long-time national editor at Streetsblog and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Bicycling, GOOD, and Landscape Architecture Magazine. Right of Way documents the traffic violence that occurs daily on America’s streets and reveals the racist policies and practices that create this tragedy.
The webinar will be hosted by Charles Brown, America Walks Board Member and senior researcher with the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, who wrote the foreword to the book.
Right of Way: How Racial and Class Disparities Created a Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America
Thursday, 24 September 2020 - 1:15pm
In the last ten years, there has been a 50 percent increase in pedestrian deaths. In 2018 alone more than 6,000 pedestrians were killed while walking in America. Yet, despite the increase in deaths, the tragedy of traffic violence has barely registered with the media and wider culture. Disproportionately, the victims are immigrants, the poor, and people of color. They have largely been blamed and forgotten. The media barely covers these tragedies as they victims often in low-income neighborhoods.
What appears at first to be “accidentals”, under greater scrutiny, reveals itself to be a predictable, stark geographic patterns that tell a story about systemic inequality. These deaths are the forgotten faces of an increasingly urgent public-health crisis that we have the tools, but not the will, to solve.
Why are these people dying? What’s necessary to reframe the problem, acknowledge racism and classism in our public response to safety, and energize road safety advocates? How can we create programs, policies, and movements that respond to the epidemic?
In this webinar you'll hear from multiple people working on the front lines of pedestrian advocacy:
Jorge Cáñez , Peatónito, pedestrian rights advocate
Veronica Davis , business owner of Nspiregreen LLC, civil engineer and planner
Webinar: Angie Schmitt on “Right of Way”
Wednesday, 30 September 2020 - 1:00pm
Join Next City for a webinar with guest presenter Angie Schmitt , who will discuss her new book Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America , on Wednesday, September 30 at 1 p.m. Eastern time.
A common assumption is that instances of traffic violence are both unpredictable and unavoidable. But with her new book, Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America, Angie Schmitt debunks this notion and unpacks the trends in pedestrian safety that disproportionately impact people of color and people experiencing economic hardship.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 2018 saw 6,283 pedestrian deaths. That number roughly breaks down to 1 death every 88 minutes over the entire year. If we look at these numbers based on race and wealth, we find that people of color and people with low incomes have a higher chance of being killed in traffic crashes.
As Schmitt reported in a 2017 article for Streetsblog , pedestrians of color in Louisiana are nine times more likely to die in a traffic crash compared with white people. Additionally, locations with higher populations of people living below the poverty line tend to have less infrastructure that would guard against fatal crashes.
“Right of Way is a call to reframe the problem, acknowledge the role of racism and classism in the public response to these deaths, and energize advocacy around road safety,” reads the book synopsis.
Angie Schmitt is a well-known transportation writer and planner based in Cleveland. She is the author of the upcoming book “Right of Way: Race, Class and the Silent Crisis of Pedestrian Deaths in America,” which will be published Aug. 27th by Island Press. Her writing and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, NPR and elsewhere. She was the long time national editor for Streetsblog. Schmitt is the founder of the Cleveland-based urban planning firm 3MPH, which specializes in pedestrian safety.
This webinar is to pay what you wish to register. Pay any amount that you would like or nothing at all. Those who become sustaining members of at least $5 a month, or who make a one-time donation of at least $20, may receive “19 Best Solutions of 2019” — Next City’s solutions of the year magazine. Your contribution toward this seminar will be used to find even more amazing guests, cover hosting fees and organize seminars like this one more frequently. A video of the webinar will be made available to those who register.