20 January 2010

Vintage 'Ignoring the Bull' Culture

Ignoring the Bull Way Back 2
Ignoring the bull in society's china shop is nothing new. The Danish Road Safety Council have been protecting car culture since at least 1957. Above is their magazine called Watch Out!

Ignoring the Bull Way Back Then3
Inside the magazine there is even an advert for reflective clothing.

Ignoring the Bull Way Back Then
"Cyclist and Pedestrian! Protect yourself and your children! Buy Pasma traffic safety clothing with reflective strips. These strips will warn cars and motorcycles of your presence at a distance of several hundred metres. Pasma clothes are available across the country. See demonstrations of the outerwear and trousers at your closest retailer."

"One must be able to see the danger in order to avoid it. Therefore The Danish Road Safety Council recommends Pasma."

You'd think that we would have learned a lot about traffic calming and reducing the danger that cars and motorists pose to pedestrians and cyclists in all the years since 1957. Alas, Bubble Wrap Society lives on and politicians continue to embrace the 'easy' solutions, both here in Denmark and abroad. Placing the weight on the shoulders of cyclists and pedestrians.

Here's a brochure from - shockhorror - Copenhagen condescending to the elderly by suggesting that they wear "bright clothing and reflexes".

These pedestrian traffic safety messages have appeared on zebra crossings reading "Take care of yourself!" (Note the part of the sticker at the bottom right. Perfect tripping system.)
So no news about campaigns to reduce speed limits to ensure higher levels of traffic safety and reduce death and injury, just fearmongering and motor vehicle protectionism. Just like the pedestrian flags in Berkeley and elsewhere.

In Toronto there have been 10 pedestrian fatalities since January 12th. A reader, Autumn, sent us this link about it from CBC News. Are there calls in the city for lower speed limits? One commenter on the article writes "The red hand means stop", which kind of says it all, really.

Andy sent a link about a school in Norwich. "Children face being ordered by police to get off their bikes and walk on the pavement unless they are wearing reflective safety gear during the hours of darkness, although there is no legal requirement for cyclists, whatever their age, to do so."

Here's the article from www.road.cc.

There is a will to inform in some cities, even with the investment in and the production of solid, permanent signage. Unfortunately the message is sent to the wrong recipients. Cyclists and pedestrians instead of motorists.


Pete said...

Even at pedestrian crosswalks, I don't let my children step off of the curb until all cars have stopped. Even then, many cars proceed through the crosswalk once you've cleared them, instead of waiting until you're on the opposite sidewalk. (Toronto)

Kevin Love said...

As a Toronto resident, I have to comment on this:

"In Toronto there have been 10 pedestrian fatalities since January 12th... Are there calls in the city for lower speed limits?"

Kevin's comment:
To answer your question, yes, as a matter of fact, there are calls in the City for lower speed limits.

One person doing the calling is Toronto City Councillor Bill Saundercook. In his official capacity as elected City Councillor and Co-Chairman of the Toronto Pedestrian Committee, Mr. Saundercook has called for lowering all speed limits in the City by 10 km/hr.

His motion was passed by the Toronto Pedestrian Committee (which is an official committee of City Council). It is currently being analysed by City staff who will prepare a report upon feasibility of implementation before City Council votes to approve the motion. That is the normal political process to achieve these sorts of improvements.

From page 6 of:


"On motion by Councillor Bill Saundercook, the Toronto Pedestrian Committee
requested the General Manager, Transportation Services, to provide to the
Toronto Pedestrian Committee, information on the feasibility of reducing the
vehicular speed limit by 10 km/h on all Toronto roads, excluding 30 km/h zones
and roads which pedestrian and cyclists are currently not allowed to use for
transit, for example, Allen Road."

Melbourne Cyclist said...

It really bugs me every time I see 'safety' signage directed at the most vulnerable users. Grumble.

Current one here: my route to work includes an actually quite nice (for Melbourne) separated from the road shared bicycle & pedestrian path, wide enough for two bikes to ride side-by-side / cross going in opposite directions. There's a curb and a good 4-5ft wide stretch of grass between us and the road, although there are quite a few little turnoffs. Infrequently used, so not really an issue.

However, a building site has opened up, and has a drive that crosses the bike/ped path. Rather than there being signage on the drive to tell them to watch out, there's a big sign telling bikes/peds to be cautious, and go no more than walking pace. Which is covered by a tree. Sigh.

On the plus side, our local councillor seems pretty pro-bike, so I'm going to talk to her sometime soon - she wants suggestions on how to improve things - I might just point her here, and tell her that anything in a pic of Copenhagen, we'd like here! :-)

lagatta à montréal said...

Grrr, it never stops from the kids who can't enjoy themselves riding any more (in Britain it gets dark very early; they don't want kids riding home from school? to the elderly.

I'm old enough to know how I'd react if any idiot and most unfashionable policeperson told me to wear garish ugly clothing to be safe.

Elders do have their dignity!

Sean said...

I'm so glad Pete mentioned this point. On foot or on bike, when the crosswalk signal indicates "go," I still always look both ways before crossing and wait for traffic to stop. It had saved me from being injured numerous times.

Incidentally, Queen Blvd., known locally as the "Blvd. of Death," is indeed dangerous and a great example of bad planning. It's a wide, multi-lane raceway that runs through a heavily populated section of Queens (a part of NYC).

Mikael is right. A sign for pedestrians doesn't address the real problem: too many cars going way too fast.

James D. Schwartz said...

Here's an article in Toronto's defacto pro-car newspaper that blames the pedestrians for the 10 deaths in 9 days:



"But as much as the anti-car lobby will not want to hear it, the ones at fault are just as often the pedestrians themselves.

No one wants to blame the victim, and no one would argue that the battle between a person and 1,000 kg of crushing metal is an even one. But that said, too many pedestrians strut about our streets as entitled or distracted or as aggressive as their similarly guilty counterparts behind the wheel.

Heads down, iPods in their ears, running for the bus or their streetcar, protected by their God-given right to step into live traffic while drivers screech to a halt.

Case in point: Wednesday’s early morning fatality in which a woman in her ’30s, dressed in dark clothing, attempted to cross Dufferin St., just south of Eglinton Ave. W., not at the lights but at a point where the driver in a blue minivan had no ability to see her until it was too late."

James D. Schwartz said...

Oh, and the comments in that article aren't much better than the article itself:

For example:

"There is nothing worse than nailing some dumb ass pedestrian first thing in the morning. It just ruins your whole day, not to mention the bodywork damage!! If you are a pedestrian, and you don't want to get your stupid ass run over... Try looking,or, stay the hell off the road!! I see it happen multiple times a day. Morons with Ipods,cell phones etc etc. Their attention is everywhere else but the road.

Would you walk out into the middle of a busy firing range?? RIP common sense, so very uncommon these days"

LGV said...

so true ! so brainwashing...

Mark said...

I sense an Elephant in the room... oh damn, I forgot we're supposed to ignore it!

Todd said...

Sadly since this article was posted there have been two more. Total pedestrian fatalities in Toronto is up to 12.

Kevin Love said...

Here's an article naming and shaming the elephant. From The Globe and Mail, Canada's self-proclaimed "National Daily Newspaper" at:


Michael said...

There's another side to this that was recently brought to my attention when a friend was spit on by a cyclist who was running a red light and wanted the pedestrian to get out of his way.

How do we control that kind of behavior? I'm suggesting it's more infrastructure, b/c that would lead to a stronger social bike culture. I can say I never saw cyclists acting like that in DK, but they must be everywhere, no?

Kate said...

Sadly - It's now up to 14 pedestrians killed in as many days in the Greater Toronto Area.
We find out tomorrow if we get the speed reduction: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2010/01/26/council-pedestrians.html
Here's hoping!