03 November 2009

Emotional Pornography to Protect the Automobile


Yes, it's important to look both ways before crossing the street and to cross where you can see what is coming.

But this Department for Transport campaign is a classic example of ignoring the bull and placing all the responsibility on the vulnerable members of the traffic equation.

Where are the traffic calming initiatives around that bend that will force cars to slow down? Speed bumps, reduced speed limits, etc.?

No, no. Cars must continue on their sacred quest unhindered. The small squishy obstacles had better take precautions.

Among those precautions is wearing hiviz clothing when... walking. Is this what we've come to? Is this a sign that The Culture of Fear has peaked and plateaued? Have we given up trying to restrict and tame the destructive capabilties of the automobile and instead insist on reflective clothing for the simple act of walking about our cities and towns?

18 comments:

Anth said...

And the problem is people really do buy this. I saw the full ad for the first time in the cinema two nights ago and pointed out the 'victim-blaming' nature of it to the friends I was with. It was like watching a light switch on.

Yes, we can all do things to make ourselves safer, it's why at night I put lights on my bike. But for walking in the streets? Hi-viz clothing?

When I went to school (in the UK) we had the Tufty Club, which basically taught you how to cross the road. It was all about common sense. You did your bit by not running out into the road without looking, and drivers did their bit by driving more carefully.

Hi-viz for pedestrians just says, 'Drive however you want, anything you shouldn't be hitting will be lit up.'

Klaus Mohn said...

the corollary is the invariable excuse of US car drivers interviewed after maiming or killing a cyclist with the two tons of steel they carry around them: "i didn't see him". that's their excuse. how many times have you heard somone say that matter-of-factly after a car-on-car accident? why do journalists report it impassibly, or with a nod and a wink?

Nilcouak said...

That's sad and that obviously demonstrate the culture of fear. Is that the progress?? being afraid simply for crossing a street?
Thanks for all your awesome article.
Copenhaganize the planet, and have a lovely day!

Stefan said...

Reminds me of Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffmann...
see http://bit.ly/1uq6zz
Seems like we didn't progress since the 19th century

Mark said...

I don't think that drivers who say "I didn't see him/her/cyclist" are making an excuse. I don't think they see them. Period. It's not an excuse, but a reality of the way automobiles are built, drivers are trained, traffic infrastructure is designed, traffic laws are written and practices are reinforced. I think that is more damning than an excuse. It doesn't relieve the driver of culpability, either. That reality places even greater responsibility on government and regulators to "tame the bull." And, it places much more responsibility on the press to report accidents of this type without looking through the windshield of a car.

Kiwehtin said...

The woman who didn't look for a safe place to jog.
She couldn't be bothered to go to a place where rapists could be seen from a nice open space, so she jogged on a path that went through the trees, where a guy quite naturally thought she was being a tease...

I don't need to rephrase the rest of it, but this is the kind of thing I always think of when I see this stuff that blames the pedestrian/cyclist because it's "unthinkable" to place an onus on those who can cause serious harm, instead treating their convenience and pleasure as something to be taken for granted as natural.

Kiwehtin said...

...and the second clip is the equivalent of a sexual assault awareness clip that would be about The Girl Who Couldn't Be Bothered To Dress Modestly...

portlandize.com said...

A simple solution - rather than force pedestrians to wear neon yellow... how about installing street lights?

Oh, right, because that requires the government to *do* something.

A co-worker of my wife's was just killed crossing a street here in Portland, in a marked crosswalk, where the street light is out, there is a bus stop which blocks the visibility of the crosswalk (there was a bus stopped there at the time so the pedestrians couldn't see the car and vice versa), and there is no traffic signal on a 35mph road.

They probably should have looked after passing the bus that was stopped, and the motorist should have been going slower, but maybe a working street light and a pedestrian-activated traffic signal where there really should be one would have kept the now large handful of deaths that have happened at this intersection from happening.

Also, in Oregon, the Oregon legislature has to approve any speed limit change on any road in Oregon, which means that the City of Portland, which would love to have very few streets with greater than 25mph speed limits, has to submit a request and wait for approval from the Oregon legislature, which then has to come and do a study on the road to determine if the speed limit needs changing, and they also require Portland to do a similar study and present their findings, and then finally, if everyone judges that the speed limit needs changing, it can be changed.

It's a ridiculous waste and yet another way that we are just asking for more people's lives to be taken while we sit around and twiddle our thumbs, talking about "freedom".

Mark said...

A good commentary in "Slate" on this subject from the US perspective where we often confuse pedestrian injuries as being caused by, well, pedestrians.

http://www.slate.com/id/2234011/

Adrienne Johnson said...

The few times I have been nearly hit by a car, and the one time I was, I could have been naked and painted glow in the dark from head to toe and it would not have made a difference because the driver was looking at the radio or the other way or at his zipper...... anywhere but the road.

Melbourne Cyclist said...

I was talking to someone yesterday about a similar thing - he was saying that there's been a recent ad targetted at motorcyclists, telling them to be safer on the roads, and that he thought this was good to see on the basis that all the other ads have been about cars having to look out for motorcyclists, which he thought was unfair.

So, I explained that as a cyclist, when I use shared pedestrian/cycle paths, because I am one of the fastest and thus most dangerous vehicles on that infrastructure, I carry the greatest responsibility for making sure I don't hurt anyone. Therefore, on the roads, as the most dangerous vehicle, the car should be bearing the greatest responsibility and looking out for everyone else. The light went on and he agreed...
(he's a smart guy)

tensimon said...

great stuff!

I'm currently preparing a unit of work for my university english discussion class, it's going to be about speeding, I'm going to downloaderhelper those videos to show in class, to ask the question - isn't this the fault of the car for going too fast?

Thanks for posting those, really helpful.

I'll probably be including some more from copenhagenize.com, I'll be including the site so my students can go see for themselves.

oh, and the comments above about "the girl who got raped because it was her own fault" - spot on! Nice, let's get this 'blame the victim' thing out in the open.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, I remember the first time that I saw a family group(father and two kids) walking in my neighborhood around dusk, all wearing orange reflective vests. They were on the perfectly adequate sidewalk in a well lit residential area with speed bumps in the road, but they were being safe. Very sad, especially since some of the drivers I have seen there do inspire such paranoia - they brake hard for the speed bumps, then floor it to the next one, brake hard again, etc. Sad, for sure. Val

Ryan said...

Well we have just removed a bike lane on a major road here because it "hinders" traffic speed. Now many residents are saying it's time to remove the other bike lanes on major streets and for cyclists to start using the sidewalk with pedestrians.
Ironically the traffic speed is now finally going the posted speed limits with the bike lanes. Before the bike lanes it was four lanes for cars where they'd go 10kph OVER the speed limit.

As for being seen when dark. I have a flashing light on the rear with two reflectors. I have no interest in wearing a neon coloured vest. If a motorist can't see my rear light and reflectors, they won't see a vest.

Anneke said...

The exact oppisite campaign has been running in the Netherlands for a couple of months. Rij met je hart (drive with your heart) was targeted at all people in traffic but most specifically at motorists. One of the films featured children wanting to cross a street where they shouldn't cross (zebra crossing around the corner), but the driver is encouraged to stop for them nonetheless, things like that.

Charlie said...

Part of the conspicuity arms race is the use of daytime running lights (DRL) on automobiles. There's a UK advocacy group opposing DRL with a page of links including sister organizations in other countries. You can join the USA organization without paying any membership fee.

The advocacy groups seem to be opposing requirements for DRL. I think DRL should be prohibited!

Oldboy in London said...

Very interesring subject. Did you have a look at the London Safety Unit Campaign?
They have very similar things such as : http://londonroadsafety.tfl.gov.uk/campaigns_archive_dont-die-before-youve-lived.php

In the aims, one can read:
"To address the issues of distraction, including peer pressure, mobile phones, personal stereos, ball games, rollerblading and skateboarding"

In fact as streets have been all taken by parking and private car trafic kids have no where to play anymore. Usually sports ground in london are rarely free of charge and very often saturated anyway. It seems that the perfect children are the one that are in front of TV during their free time and drove to and from school. No suprise you get problems like obesity and so on...

spag said...

This is truly horrible.

UK safety ads always remind me of the uncanny fact that its the Netherlands and the UK together having the safest roads in Europe - but with the tiny difference that in the UK this comes with the total priority of the car over pedestrians and cyclists.