I’m heartbroken by the alarming prevalence of traffic deaths, especially among vulnerable road users, and motivated to raise the profile of this issue. If we treated traffic deaths the way we treated aviation deaths, the world would be a much safer place. Here are a few examples of where I’ve channeled this motivation.
Vision Zero in Toronto: An Appeal to Common Sense
In the wake of the tragic death of a 5-year-old boy riding his bicycle on a recreational path who fell into traffic, I co-wrote an op-ed in the Toronto Star pleading for city leaders to re-think their approach to Vision Zero. The piece was co-authored by my brother, a paediatric emergency physician who specializes in trauma; his workplace would be a lot quieter if we transportation professionals did our job.
MIT Parking & Transportation Committee
During my studies at MIT, I was appointed as graduate student representative on MIT’s Standing Committee on Parking & Transportation. Among my responsibilities, I advocated for local road safety improvements across the MIT campus.
While improvements were modest, I was heartened to see my lobbying efforts successful for pedestrian pavement markings in front of a graduate residence hall. I learned the virtues of patience and relationship-building when conducting civic advocacy, and gained a new appreciation for advocacy organizations.
The Final Countdown: The Role of Pedestrian Countdown Timers on Traffic Safety
As a term project for the graduate course “Behaviour & Policy: Connections in Transportation”, my team investigated the influence of pedestrian countdown timers on driver behaviour. We collaborated with the City of Cambridge to explore the likelihood that drivers would run a red light depending on the presence and configuration of the timer. We temporarily altered traffic signal timings to conduct before and after observations, and found that countdown timers do indeed influence driver behaviour, with takeaways for the placement and configuration of such devices.