14 October 2009

Sacred Bull in Society's China Shop


Placing responsibiliy where it counts.
There's something I've been wondering about. I've noticed that the majority of traffic 'safety' campaigns seem to focus on everything except the bull in the china shop - the automobile. It's a global tendency, stemming from the seemingly irreversible prescence of cars and trucks. I find it odd that so few campaigns actually place the focus firmly on the problem: the large, heavy, dangerous machines that rumble about our streets and the people who seem to have difficultly controlling them.

The billboard prototype above is a logical illustration of how traffic safety campaigns should be focused.

In Frederiksberg, the city in which I live - not surprisingly it is staunchly conservative/right wing - these posters were slapped up recently. It rhymes in Danish, but reads "She checked her text messages, and died in the process."

What a stupid girl. Cars are everywhere and they're not going anywhere anytime soon. It's her own damn fault for impeding their route. Think of the poor motorist who had no choice in running her down. He/she was just regular citizen on their way to or from work. Not only were they forced to suffer the mental anguish of killing a text-messaging pedestrian [shockingly sans walking helmet], but they were made to wait around at the scene of the accident, be interviewed by the police and they were probably late for dinner/work.

So someone let a bull into society's china shop. We all realise that and it doesn't look like the bull is going anywhere. All the fragile fine china on the shelves is getting knocked about and smashed on a regular basis. [An estimated 1.2 million people are killed in motor vehicle accidents every year around the world].

It seems quite ridiculous that nobody is talking about the bull. Instead there is constant talk of wrapping up all the pieces of porcelain in thin bubble wrap and tsk-tsking about how dangerous it is to even CONSIDER placing fine china on the shelves of a china shop now that there's a bull stampeding about.

Meanwhile the bull just shit on the floor in aisle 9 and tipped another shelf over. Crash bang boom.

Here's a radical idea. If it proves too difficult to remove the bull entirely from the china shop, what about lassoing it and tethering it to a fixed object? Restricting its movements and not letting it run about? Castrating it and calming it? If need be, creating a pen within the china shop where it can graze, out of reach of the china?

The automobile industry wants us to forget the bull.

And the proud stallion, ram, birds of prey, big cats, mythical dragons. These poor innocent creatures. It's a shame that they can't just freely roam about without all these soft, squishy obstacles that get in their way. Their marketing has succeeded and it's not surprisingly that the industry is among the most fervent advocates for making cycling appear more dangerous than it is.

Society has turned a blind eye to the bull.

Even in traffic safety campaigns that employ scaremongering about car accidents, the focus is often on YOUR safety and that of the other passengers. Rarely the external problem of killing innocent people.

I've been trying to think about examples of adverts that are focused on the actual problem and that place responsibility for the heavy hitters in the traffic equation, rather than the "soft traffic", as we call pedestrians and cyclists in Denmark. One example, or rather exception, is the annual campaign above. It appeared for many years when school was starting, featuring various kids.

"Watch out for Laura. She's new in the traffic"

But it's been difficult to find other examples. Does anybody know of any out there?


A recent public service campaign from Wales, above, is another exception. It focuses on the latest cause celebre - the dangers of texting while driving, but it graphically show how dangerous driving is. It is also the greatest public service campaign for advocating motoring helmets. Have a look and see, despite the seatbelts and airbags, why motoring helmets have been developed first by an Australian company in the 1980's and later at the University of Adelaide in Australia. [after an Australian government study showed that 25% of all car fatalities could be avoided if the motorists had worn helmets - despite seatbelts and airbags. That's over 250,000 lives saved every year globally, and 10,000 in the US alone]

Virtually everyone involved in the accidents has a head injury of some sort.

Like our previous post about applying logic to the case and placing health warning labels on all cars and trucks, a change of focus about the very real possibility of killing innocent people while driving would be an effective way to place responsibility in the right place, as well as encourage motorists to choose alternative transport forms.

There are numerous ways of taming the everpresent bull in society's china shop. There are congestion charges in place in many cities, discouraging motor vehicles and encouraging people to take public transport or cycle. Dozens and dozens of cities around Europe are actively implementing lower speed limits. Down to 20 or 30 km/h in built-up areas and the effects on the number of accidents is positive. Sadly, this very simple idea is not being considered in Copenhagen.

A recent BBC article completely ignores the bull, whereas in Denmark and the Netherlands drivers of large trucks [HGVs/Heavy Goods Vehicles] are being made to improve their mirrors, install cameras and warning sensors and there are other technological advances that will improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

There are changes to laws, like in Denmark and the Netherlands that place the blame firmly on the automobile in accidents, unless it can be proven otherwise. The idea is simply that the person in the most dangerous vehicle has the most responsibility.

What started as a "what if" idea at the Dutch Cyclist Federation - Fietsersbond - is now evolving rapidly into a real project. External airbags on cars in case of collisions with pedestrians or cyclists. The project has recieved a great deal of funding and simulations have been produced. A crash-test dummy simulation is on the calendar for later this year.

All in all, it's high time that we turned around, looked at the bull and did something about it. The sooner, the better. It's not rocket science, it's merely a question of changing our marketing tactics.

50 comments:

Anneke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anneke said...

I think David Hembrow also featured the campaign, but every year when the schools start (The holidays rotate in a way, so every region has different dates every year) there is a campaign to remind drivers to watch out for the most vulnerable; children.
"De scholen zijn weer begonnen" (The schools have started again (so pay attention)) with pictures of walking and cycling kids.

http://www.ivv.amsterdam.nl/contents/pages/135605/weernaarschool7.jpg

or

http://lienekeboone.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/scholen-zijn-weer-begonnen.gif

I hope they work (I still have to figure out how I can make these links any smaller)
(And the word verification is citicin :D )

Erik Sandblom said...

Bravo Mikael!

It never ocurred to me how many car manufacturers have wild, untamed animals as their mascot. Very clever of you to note that. And very true!

The marketing has certainly succeeded. Even in bicycle webforums, people say "I'm afraid to run over cyclists with my car", oblivious to the obvious solution of leaving the car at home. Walk. Take the bus. Or (gasp) ride your bicycle!

Peter said...

Well said Mikael, One day we may look back on these times of allowing big lumps of metal to move so fast amongst people in the same way that we now look back on open sewers - with horror at an obvious public health menace.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeUX6LABCEA&feature=related
is quite effective but they choose 30mph as a speed to aim for rather than 20mph (30km/h) because that is the the speed limit in built up areas in UK that people ignore.

dukie biddle said...

Speaking of infuriating automobile marketing, I'm sure you've seen this already, but if you haven't, someone should really take Audi to task for this American commercial of theirs:

Alternative transportation soft traffickers are nerds ad

Kim said...

We need to get it into drivers heads that they are responsible for their actions.

All to often the "safety" campaigns are aimed at the victims, they are the ones who have to wear Hi vis clothing, helmets etc. Not enough emphasis is put on the fact that a licence to drive is not a licence to kill.

Carfree Chicago said...

Great metaphore.

I've also often wondered why MADD always seems to be attacking drinking while totally ignoring the driving part of the equation. There aren't nearly as many drinking and driving deaths in urban areas where people *walk* home from bars, or take trains, buses or cabs. It's to the point where I almost wonder if MADD is more interested in bringing back the prohibition than ending drinking and driving deaths. How about this slogan -- "don't drive to the bar." I have to say though, I did see an ad by a beer company a while ago featuring a Chicago transit card with the message, "drink responsibly."

Tim Beadle said...

450 bhp in a saloon car? Are Audi completely insane?

I have to drive to work at the moment as my employer is miles from anywhere, but I bought a small, relatively efficient Ford Fiesta 1.25, with (wait for it) 71 bhp. It's perfectly adequate for my needs, and makes me realise that most cars out there are overpowered, bringing speeding, inefficiency, extra pollution and stress (for the driver as well as others) in their wake.

Klaus Mohn said...

"The dude in the Mercedes checked his text messages - and killed a girl in the process". THAT should be the text of that ad, because THAT is what actually happens.

miss sarah said...

Thank you, Mikael!

It's a tough sell here where I live, in one of the oil capitals of the world. It seems like most people here are in pick up trucks, SUVs, minivans and Hummers. Most of them don't shoulder check.

And I get SO TIRED of people flipping out when I disagree that bicycle advocacy should be about riding more, not perpetuating the fear of dying sans helmet. I have no doubt that wearing a helmet makes some people feel safe, but I don't think it's wise to ignore the larger dangers of being on the road.

I've yet to hear of a cyclist killing somebody while they were out getting groceries.

And just this past weekend a woman died in my city. A pedestrian crossing on a walk. The driver claims that he just didn't see her. So it's probably her fault? Because she wasn't wearing reflective stripes? Sigh. And instead of talking about how dangerous it is to drive, the general attitude is that we better never let our kids out of the house, or have them cross streets, because walking is so dangerous.

S*

S*

John said...

I agree with this article 100%. The responsibility must be placed on the automobile driver. As pedestrian and bicycle advocates we need to focus our energies on this issue. All others are secondary. The tolerance for sloppy driving was created by the automobile industry so that they could sell more cars. Now we must hold them responsible. Become an active voice for change.

JohnBike

Anonymous said...

Check out the Pedestrian Safety and Red Lights campaigns under the Transportation Services.

veronica

http://www.toronto.ca/wesads/index.htm#transportation

spiderleggreen said...

I always admire your audacity. "Can't he just let us have one little lie? How dare he point out the man behind the curtain!" But seeing the "Bull" behind the curtain, changes you. Suddenly, odd ideas come into your head. "Pedestrians should be able to walk wherever they damn well please(Excluding property rights, I suppose). And do stupid things, like texting(Reading would be better!) while walking." Why? Because they are unlikely to seriously hurt someone by their actions. Suddenly, all this "follow every bike law to the letter" seems to be feeding the beast.

Sorry to delve into politics for an example, but conservatives in America get what they want because they demand it. They understand that in the public sphere, being meek and humble(quiet, patient, understanding, and harmless)doesn't get results). Just like Obama needs to learn that in negotiation, you have to ask for more than you want to get what you really need, so do cyclizers.

What do you believe in? Do you want to ever see it? Gotta push the envelope.

Sue the convict said...

great article - deadly accurate

kfg said...

"I've noticed that the majority of traffic 'safety' campaigns seem to focus on everything except the bull in the china shop . . ."

Bingo! The bull, however, seems to sacred. Things that are sacred are, at BEST, left unexamined and at worst are defended with religious zeal.

". . .people say "I'm afraid to run over cyclists with my car""

Well, don't DO IT then. Problem solved. The car isn't a beast, it's just an object; the person behind the wheel is.

". . .they are responsible for their actions."

And a BINGO! for Kim as well. If you aren't capable of this, get out from behind the wheel; you don't belong there.

"450 bhp in a saloon car? Are Audi completely insane?"

They are profiteers; they simply go where they believe the money is. This may, at times, be socially irresponsible to the point of being sociopathic, but I don't think that's COMPLETELY insane. The people who BUY them are insane.

"Ford Fiesta 1.25, with (wait for it) 71 bhp. . ."

A point I often make is that "car" does NOT imply "Cars as we know them." A car actually DESIGNED to go the average speeds achieved in city driving would be a very different wee beasty indeed. In a car like this not only would 10 hp be sufficient, it would be a surplus.

But in the "civilized" world cars such as this have actually been made illegal for "safety" reasons.

paul.hayward13 said...

paul.hayward13@btinternet.comWould be interesting to know what make of car has killed the most people? A league table of the most dangerous cars & divers of those cars.

kfg said...

". . .what make of car has killed the most people?"

The red one.

As for how many cyclists killed, the numbers aren't sufficiently large to be statistically significant; circa 700 per annum in the United States. Breaking it down by make all you would be looking at is "noise."

Even riding helmetless among the bulls isn't as dangerous as it's often feared to be. Safer than taking a shower or using a staircase. Bicycling under nearly ANY conditions isn't all that dangerous if done with reasonable caution (i.e. use a net if you're riding on a wire). The whole hoopla about bicycling safety is a GROSS misapplication of energy and focus.

Compare this, however, to the circa 20,000 per annum deaths to occupants of the passenger cars themselves. CARS are dangerous and their operators dispatch themselves with greater dispatch than they do us; despite all their modern "safety" features.

This, ironically, is why so much focus is on the safety of cyclists. The whole car wielding world has turned its infrastructure inside out to mediate the danger to DRIVERS, because their vehicles are so dangerous even to themselves; at everyone else's expense.

"Everyone" knows this, yet "everyone" tends to avoid alternatives for . . . SAFETY.

There is a shitload of Double Think and Cognitive Dissonance going about the land.

ModelCarGuy said...

If I'm not mistaken, even in Copenhagen, the best cycling city in the world, half the trips are made by car.

I'm not sure exactly where you're going with this - you haven't mentioned an outright ban. You haven't even mentioned coercive fuel taxes (which I would support) to reduce motor traffic.

How are you going to lead the bull out of the china shop when the bull has been freely chosen by the majority? -even in Copenhagen. People haven't accidentally allowed the bull to stray into the china shop, they've led the bull into the china shop. They want the bull to be in the china shop.

Like it or not, the majority would just rather drive than ride. Too bad for us cyclists.

How do we know the young lady didn't walk out in front of the car against the signal? (The ad seems to me to imply something of this nature) There are already traffic control devices in place to regulate both hard and soft traffic.

Mikael said...

Just to be clear, model car guy, the modal share for commuting in Copenhagen is 37% for bicycles. the remaining 60% is divided between public transport and cars, plus a few percent for pedestrians.

if you look at the statistic for ALL trips by bike in the city, the bicycle enjoys 55% modal share.

only 40% of copenhageners own cars.

i wrote quite clearly that the bull isn't going to be led out of the shop. it's in the shop, whether we like it or not. therefore it must be tamed and/or castrated.

i don't agree that the people have led the bull in. it's all about marketing on the part of the auto industry. they've led us to believe that the bull SHOULD be led into the shop.

regarding the poster, we don't know what the girl was doing. the impression we are given, however, is that she is doing something wrong, not the vicitimized car/motorist in the blurry background.

which is wrong in my opinion.

Mark said...

I am astonished to find myself agreeing with this post - just 18 months ago I would have thought it somewhat extreme and on the fringe as 'just another car driver' - these days I'm a changed man and always go for the two wheel option, but I am aware that nearly everyone else out there isn't - the car is enshrined in society like, as someone said on here, a sacred bull & those driving around in them think WE are the lunatics and menace to safety, not them.

The car isn't going to go away - fact - but I agree wholeheartedly that the onus on safe driving should be with drivers not pedestrians, or cyclists or anyone else. Dangerous driving and death by dangerous driving should carry the full weight of the law - sadly, here in the UK if you do kill a cyclist in a car or HGV the worst you'll get is a light slap on the wrists.

Car manufacturers and the car lobby are going to oppose any kind of movement to shift the focus on to drivers - it's got to come from the Government (good luck with that!) or from within the realms of the cycling movement itself. I like Mikael's safety sign he mocked up - it made me think we should almost be making our own driving safety videos and putting them out there ourselves.

In the mean time, the car aint going nowhere, fast.

Anonymous said...

Great post and really interesting comments. Good points about cycling advocacy Miss Sarah unfortunately cyclists do kill pedestrians of these mainly children. Cyclist have just as much responsibility to be careful of pedestrians as car drivers. I am amazed at how many cyclists I know and see on the road who refuse to have a simple bell fitted on their bikes in the UK.

Mark said...

Anonymous, I think you are missing the point somewhat here when you say "unfortunately cyclists do kill pedestrians, of these mainly children" - in the UK last year a cyclist killed ONE pedestrian (and the apportionment of blame in that incident has been contentious) -that's just ONE - the motorcar, however, killed approximately 400 in direct accidents and 4000 deaths via contributing to respiratory disease, stress, obesity etc (Death figures there for Denmark but it's a comparable country) Picture if you can what 4400 dead people look like - if they all died, say, in a football stadium riot / crush the repercussions would echo on for decades. That's more people dieing in Denmark because of cars than died in the whole of 9/11 - where are the wars and invasions against this enemy, where is the grief, where is the public sense of indecency?

But no, one by one, those 4400 people slowly trickle away, like sand beneath the tyres, and no-one thinks this is wrong.

Just because it is currently a popular opinion to say 'cyclists are a danger / pest / nuisance' doesn't mean it is so (and indeed is too easily swallowed as the lazy point of view) The figures above speak for themselves - you need to be getting on your soapbox about the killer cars, not the bicycles. Cars are a major threat to your life, and mine - whether you are a pedestrian, on a bike or behind the wheel. Where is the outrage? Where is the anger? Why do we tolerate this? Where are the endless stream of comments on the Daily Mail website groaning and moaning about what a danger these pesky cars are and how they are 'single handedly bringing about the downfall of our once great nation'?(!)

Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark,

I agree with you comments totally. I was only trying to point out that bicycles like cars are used by humans and if used carelessly and dangerously can cause injury or even on rare occasions death. I have myself been on the receiving end of a car as a pedestrian and I was very lucky that day but it still took months and months to recover from the injuries I sustained. So please believe when I say I really do get the point.

Mark said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks for the point & I was sorry to hear of your accident. Anyway, I've just re-read my comment and see that I come across as a bit furious - sorry for the anger! I was reading about Sue Abbott over on Mike Rubbo's blog at the same time and think it was all just a bit too much - sometimes I feel that us cyclists are the victims of such awful prejudice and it's really hard to understand why the rest of the world doesn't see things like we do - it's a battle for sure, and an uphill one at that - and for what? Because we want to make the world a better place, lead fuller lives and be more healthy. You'd think the world would be clambering to embrace us, instead of the Bull in the china shop. *sigh*

Keep on peddlin' people!

Anonymous said...

Yow! Do you have a ref for that Australian study that gave that 25% number?

I think you're really onto something here. If you can show that helmets would do more good on motorists than cyclists, one of two things happen (both good):

* Motorist reject helmets (likely). Cyclists look at that and say, well, why are we being mandated to wear them? Governments are forced to backtrack on helmet laws for cyclists.

* Motorists start wearing helmets (unlikely). Society comes up less annoying helmets and that helps cyclists. (I wouldn't worry about this branch too much :-)

portlandize.com said...

I was just thinking the other day that I think one of the biggest reasons people are afraid to cycle in the city in the U.S., is that everyone knows (because we've all seen it) that not only can a person in a car pretty easily kill someone who isn't in a car, but they can get away with it.

If you're fooling around with a gun, and you accidentally shoot someone, you are almost inevitably charged with something. Not as much as if you intended to shoot them, but something. If you're in a car, and you accidentally hit someone and kill them, it's not at all unusual for the driver to get off completely, or just get a minor slap on the wrist.

The fact is, cars are dangerous and driving one carries great responsibility, which we have come to totally ignore and forget. Even in Oregon, which I think has pretty decent laws in place for pedestrians especially, education is so poor that nobody at all knows what they are, and they are never enforced, so people just drive as they like, and that's that.

I think there should just be a descending chain of responsibility - the more vulnerable you are, the more legal sway should be in your favor. That is, if an automobile and anyone else are in a collision, and the fault is uncertain, it should default to the automobile driver. If a cyclist and a pedestrian are in a collision, and the fault is uncertain, it should default to the cyclist. I think if people felt more certain they were going to be protected, they would feel less need to become belligerent about interactions as well. Fear creates anger.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark,

No problem. Looking at my first comment it does come across as being too negative so you were right to bring me up on it. But, as you said, maybe a little more kindly ;-)

LGV said...

wahoo when i saw the baby with his fixed open eyes !!! tears came directly.
sure an helmet can help, everything can help, even make cars illegal ! oh that's a good idea !

Drunk Engineer said...

If you're fooling around with a gun, and you accidentally shoot someone, you are almost inevitably charged with something. Not as much as if you intended to shoot them, but something.

Even if you are not a Vice President, it is unlikely charges would be filed in that type of situation. The gun situation in the US is just as out of control as lack of traffic safety. See, for example, Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine."

Anonymous said...

Hey, there's some content at Victoria, Australia site that might interest
http://www.tacsafety.com.au see latest tv ads. The thing about these graphic ads or campaigns though is that they only make the good drivers more cautious and the "hoon" drivers actually are proud to show off the behaviour shown in the ads and thumb their noses at them "hey i did that too and survived" - designcycle

Adrienne Johnson said...

I hate that video. I have feared being in the car with the kids in a big accident for years.

Ganesha said...

excelente!!!

saludos

Melbourne Cyclist said...

The majority of my friends do not cycle, although a few enjoy walking/using public transport rather than driving, when convenient. They all own cars (we do not). And so I'm often on the receiving end of "cycling is dangerous". Haven't yet tired of replying:

"Cycling is not dangerous. Proximity to motor vehicles is dangerous (whether you're riding next to them, or in them)."

I'll get through eventually...

Jenny said...

Oh this frustrates me so much! I couldn't agree more with you Mikael, and am CONSTANTLY arguing this point (perhaps not as succinctly) here in Australia where I live, and where bike helmets are law, and where people ask me at least once a week how I can possibly manage to cycle in a skirt and without proper closed-in shoes, and tell me how brave I am to get out there on the dangerous roads of Sydney!

It frustrates me that you have this fantastic blog but only the people who agree with you are reading it!

Anyway, well done, an excellent point made very clearly.

Melbourne Cyclist said...

Jenny - start over-reacting to how brave they are for walking on the pavement near the cars, and then *really* over-reacting to how brave/insane they are to be riding inside those killer machines, especially without any safety gear...

Sometimes only being a bit OTT gets through :-)

Swede said...

Although I agree with you that most motorists don't have a clue about what's happening around them, unfortunately most of the pedestrians and cyclists are even worse.

I don't know if you've seen the statistics but here in your neighbouring country of Sweden far more pedestrians are hit by cars when crossing a street on marked zebra crossings than crossing an unmarked area of the street. When I first heard that I thought "Of course, Swedes follow the law and cross the streets where they are supposed to" but the police and claimed that this was because people crossing the street on marked crossings weren't nearly as alert as people crossing elsewhere on the streets.

I started watching for this as I both drive a car and walk quite a lot and I was amazed to see that they were right. One time a woman walked out on a crossing without even bothering to look around and I nearly hit the baby carriage she was pushing in front of her, I only just managed to break before hitting it. Of course she went ballistic on me because I supposedly was driving like a maniac, even though I was not even at half the maximum speed, she just didn't bother looking around.

My point is really that most people are totally blank in the traffic and don't bother about their surroundings, which is of course the number one cause of traffic accidents, not speeding cars.

Mikael said...

the laws in Denmark, holland and germany place you in the seat of responisbility if you did hit her.

simply because you are in a dangerous machine that can kill. the responsibility is yours.

peds and cyclists may be irritating sometimes but they are not dangerous to society.

Morten Lange (Reykjavík) said...

Thanks for this thought-proving blog-entry. :-)

Here is a video of an attempt to helkp us spot one of the same bulls (specifically BMW) in a slightly different china shop.

Yes Men Crash BMW Gala, Demand they Stop Making Cars



'Leonardo Di Caprio, Bob Geldof and and Mikhail Gorbachev were among the dignitaries momentarily blocked by protesters as they tried to enter BMW's high-octane "Cinema for Peace" charity gala in Berlin last night. '

The YES men also make the point that overconsumption of cars and hence oil, leads to wars, so BMW screening a film about fostering peace is hypocrisy in their mind.

J.O. said...

How about adding 'Please don't kill or maim ...' posters & stickers to the merchandise store. Then we can start to take positive action and also promote Copenhagenize where we live.

Melbourne Cyclist said...

Swede: I don't know what the law is in Sweden, but I know for a fact that in the UK (where I grew up and learned to drive), motorists are required to slow down and be prepared to stop when approaching a marked crossing that has pedestrians near it who may decide to cross.

In my mind, I should be able to walk straight across a marked, priority, pedestrian crossing with my eyes completely shut and come to absolutely no harm.

When I cycle on shared paths, I'm told that I have to watch out for pedestrians because they are more vulnerable than I am. Therefore, when I am driving on the road, I should be watching out for pedestrians and cyclists - more than they are looking out for me - because I am driving by far the most dangerous vehicle.

David J said...

Great post Mikael!
Loved your sign at the beginning and you present an excellent argument throughout!
All the attitudes you have described are in full force against us here in Australia. I am regularly abused for riding on the road even when there is plenty of room for drivers to go around.

There are so many comments here I don't know if anyone's posted a link to one of Australia's favorite comedians who advocates violence against cyclists...
Be warned! Her performance is not Satire!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyEeGFg9F0k

Biker Bob said...

Another example of ignoring the bull.

Anonymous said...

Swede, the idea of pedestrian crossings is that they are the place where pedestrians have preference, where cars are obliged to stop for them.
It's really scary that you and so many other people get their driving licences without understanding that.

Henrik B. said...

Jenny: Not to worry. Some of us evil auto mobile owners are also reading along here (just reading stuff You are in accord with, wouldn't really spark any of those healthy mind-provoking thoughts would it? :))

Anyway - surprisingly I don't agree with Mikael.

First his is actually wrong regarding the Danish law on accidents between cars and bicyclists, when he states "that place the blame firmly on the automobile in accidents, unless it can be proven otherwise". Actually this is nowhere stated in the Danish Road Traffic Act. The only chapter where cyclists have precedence of motorvehicles is regarding indemnity of damages (chapter 16 - available here in Danish). Actually according to the Danish Bicycle Association bicyclists actually, in 1/3 of all cases where bicycles and cars collides, the bicyclist are deemed the cause.

Second I don't think the problem can be solved by "castrating the bull", because the source of the problem isn't cars. Nor bicycles. It's lack of understanding between the two types of drivers, and lack of knowledge of the Road Traffic Act (which can be downright frightening when it comes to drivers of cars, because these are actually examined in this!).

Not a day goes by, where I don't see cars parked on bicycle-lanes, cargo-bikes on bicycle-lanes, drivers of cars not taking a look over their right shoulder, before making a right-turn or bicyclists struggling up between cars and sidewalk in right-turn-lanes.

I personally think that the solution would be a mandatory bike-driving-license and a general higher fines on traffic violations within city limits.

cuddy said...

Mayer Hillman's worth reading on this subject, if you haven't already.
http://www.psi.org.uk/people/person.asp?person_id=30#publications

Anonymous said...

I have a car with an avg speed counter the avg speed around my city Dublin is 16 mph that fact set me thinking how cars are over powered. If a personel transportation device ie car was designed to travel for realistic city speeds then the amount of metal and mass could be reduced. Therefore less polution in making and running it. Less speed and mass would make it safer for everyone. The whole idea behind cars is essentialy wrong.

Jean-Marc said...

The public service campaign from Wales video is very good, BUT they forget something very important, specialy for the girl next to her friends' bodies :


after the accident, they forget the "1 minute later" message before the man arrive,
and, more important, they forget the "10 minutes later" before the firemen truck arrival, and another message ("5 minutes later"?) before the helicopter arrival.

Anonymous Enough said...

My only question is (to play off the meme you've established in this article): Why would anyone in their right mind go into a China Shop knowing full well that there was a raging bull inside tearing the place apart?

And no, if you think I've missed the point, then you've obviously missed mine.

don the cyclist said...

Anonymous enough, with that line of reason, trucks would rule the road, running high speeds carelessly and with no regard for auto drivers safety. The bigger the better eh? I am an American and I am sick of this kind of logic? Spewing out of peoples heads. I cycle to work and back, a 14 mile round trip, made extra nice by people like you. But let me catch you at a red light or stop sign, and I will 210 lbs.9% body fat, after you brush me with your mirror and I will make your day. One dummy at a time, I pull them right out of their cars thru the window. I never had a repeat offender. So maybe I am the bull in a car shop?

don the cyclist said...

Melbourne gets it. Anonymous enough is just way off base. I am 210 lbs.9% body fat.I would love to see you when I am cycling my 14mile commute to work. I am the bull, on a bicycle in America, if you brush me as others have I will treat you to a free ride through your window onto the ground. It works for me, as there have been no repeat offenders in my area, I get a real wide berth from past offenders. My friends have adopted this process, there is no sense wasting time trying to teach an idiotic person rules to behave by, so threat of bodily harm is the only recourse.