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Another one bites the dust

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I wrote last month about a journalist friend who has lost part of his leg after being run over by a bus while crossing the street here in Dhaka. Yesterday, a journalist here was killed while crossing the road on a motorbike, again by a bus. Motorbikes cause a number of problems, and can themselves (unlike pedestrians and, other than a few exceptional cases, cyclists) kill others as well as their passengers. But the fact remains that the incident is further evidence of how dangerous our streets have become. Every time I cross the road, I see how the car drivers speed up and honk at pedestrians, as if waging a war against us, in the perception that we slow them down (until they get trapped in traffic a few metres ahead anyway). Drivers of buses as well as cars seem to feel that as long as they honk, it is the pedestrians’ responsibility to flee. Surely a more civilized approach is possible, but even with the most polite drivers, large and heavy vehicles moving at high speed means injury and death; the incident with our friend reminds me just how horrible and enduring an ‘injury’ can be. Do we really value the pursuit of speed and convenience over life and limb? It’s time that wrong-minded approaches, not people, bite the dust. Inaction can only mean an increasing death toll. If we raise our voices for genuine solutions that get at the heart of the matter (the way we design our cities and prioritize so many of the wrong values), change will become not only possible but inevitable.