12 August 2011

FIA Foundation and Ignoring the Bull in Barcelona

Barcelona Ignoring the Bull You see these warnings aimed at pedestrians in many places in Barcelona. It is, of course, a classic "Ignoring the Bull" tactic that places the responsibility wrongly on the vulnerable traffic users. I learned, however, something that wasn't THAT suprising.

These warnings are sponsored by an automobile organisation and the city actually lets them paint them on the streets. There are no corresponding warnings for motorists. The warnings are sponsored by FIA Foundation - slogan: "For the Automobile & Society".

According to their website, the "FIA Foundation was established in 2001 with a donation of $300 million made by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the non-profit federation of motoring organisations and the governing body of world motor sport". An automobile organisation promoting automobiles "for society" is a bit spooky. A well-funded one is downright scary. FIA Foundation - For the Automobile and Society FIA Foundation - For the Automobile and Society The FIA Foundation also sponsors these warnings to scooter riders in Barcelona. They would rather see them in cars, I suppose, and not denting up the paintwork of FIA's target group.

FIA Foundation are well-known for their helmet promotion as well. They have a campaign together with Inter American Development Bank and Sesame Street to promote bicycle helmets - As part of the Global Alliance on Road Safety, the IDB joins forces with Sesame Street and FIA Foundation to raise awareness among children and youth on the importance of helmet use to prevent fatal road accidents. There is also more taming of pedestrians who might get in the way of car traffic.

Ignoring the Bull, indeed. I've been writing about this sad tendency of "safety campaigns" to speak to the vulnerable traffic users instead of the ones that do the killing and maiming for a while. There are many examples of ignoring the bull but very, very few of campaigns directed at motorists. In Sao Paulo, last month, I was pleased to see a campaign with the focus in the right place. Sao Paolo Respect the Pedestrians These banners were all over the city. Respect the Pedestrians. Sao Paolo Protecting Pedestrians In the city centre, these hands were used when the crossing light was green for pedestrians, to make motorists aware of them. Sure, not an optimal way to make a liveable city, but it is at least an example of speaking to the problem, not the victims.

The HeSO's (Health and Safety Officials) in Denmark may not get funding from automobile organisations, but they certainly adhere to the same car-centric doctrine - High Season for Danish Fear Merchants.


Rafael said...

I am Brazilian and a regular cyclist in a city near São Paulo. My major concern is with the lack of public politics to encourage cycle as a good green alternative.
Brazilian are starting to realize that cycle is not just for the weekends. But the automobile here has a huge power on our society,influencing how we built our cities.
I am sick with all the car propaganda. They are trying to
persuade the future generation that if they dont have a fast and big car, means they are a Loser !'

We need to stop both tv and "street" car propaganda immediately !

Thanks for this nice post

Anonymous said...

Even Portland Oregon, arguably the most bicycle-friendly city in the USA, goes along with the 'ignoring the bull' trend and does very little to educate or reign in motorists.

Kim said...

All too often the blame the victim approach is used for, so called, road safety campaigns which totally miss the point.

Tangerine said...

I live in São Paulo and still think the local campaign wasn't effective. First of all, it's a huge city. But there are only some banners in some busy avenues and that's it. They nonetheless managed to put up signs (a lot more of these than banners aimed at drivers) telling pedestrians to cross the street only when the pedestrian traffic light is green - which is a fiction, because those lights remain red for most of the time, even when drivers are not allowed to pass!
I walk every day and still haven't had a driver wait for me to cross the street when there's no traffic light (and when I ask for it, they are mostly disrespecful - add to it the fact that I'm a woman and male drivers feel the need to "comment" on this fact while they drive by). I mean, we have a long way to go.

tstreet said...

Thank you for this. This is something I would not have realized if it weren't for your web site. This will help in the revolution against the automobile pushers.

Miguel Barroso said...

Unfortunately, here in Portugal, a similar campaign was promoted last year by the FIA "arm", the Portuguese Auto Club (ACP). They also painted those scary phrases in pedestrian crossings, and worse - a few years ago, a safety association (ACA-M) had a positive campaign adverting drivers that "We Are All Pedestrians". The ACP, just went and used a similar slogan, but adverting pedestrians that they should be aware of cars. You can read a bit more about it here: http://bit.ly/r9M1ll