21 October 2013

Blaming Victims and Dictating Clothing

Friday Night Crowd
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you'll know all too well about what we call "Ignoring the Bull". How in this car-centric society, non-motorised victim blaming is the norm. The status quo.

You may also know the media tendency - mostly in non-cycling countries - to report about cyclists killed or injured in collisions with motorised traffic. "Hit by a truck/fast moving vehicle.... wasn't wearing a helmet." Written by journalists who are hopelessly uninformed (and perhaps uninterested) about a helmet's limited industrial design capability in collisions with vehicles. They never seem to write "Man fell from 3rd floor. Wasn't wearing a helmet." You get the point.

What we're seeing lately is how the everpresent Culture of Fear is encroaching on our lives in a new(ish) way. The safety nannies and their lackies are now desperately trying to dictate what you, the citizen, wears. They are trying to make fashion choices for you in the name of their holy, car-centric "safety".

Even here in Denmark.

Last night a young woman was killed in central Copenhagen. Run down by a taxi. By all accounts, she was crossing against the light. A young life snuffed out.

What we noticed in the articles about it was that it was really her own damn fault.

"The woman was dressed in black and it was therefore difficult for the taxi, which had the green light, to see her. The taxi driver was questioned and released. He is charged with manslaughter. According to the preliminary investigation, the driver was driving at 60 km/h when he hit the woman."

Firstly, if you live in one of over 120 European cities, you'll be stunned that there are 60 km/h zones in the heart of a densely populated European capital like Copenhagen. The 30 km/h zone movement is over 25 years young and has had an amazing effect on traffic safety in our cities. Just not in Denmark. Because the Danish police enjoy a veto regarding an issue they know nothing about. Namely traffic safety. There is a political majority in favour of 30 km/h zones in Copenhagen, but the police just shrug and say no. They are not even obliged to say WHY they're saying no. Even though they have admitted to being completely ignorant on the subject of traffic safety.

The death of the young woman comes a day after one of the police departments in Denmark - Vestegns Politi - tweeted: "Do you and your child light up in the dark? Reflectors = 70% fewer accidents for pedestrians." Seriously.

The Culture of Fear is a nasty bitch. Destructive to our societies. It is, however, rather easy to trace where messages come from. In this case, it's the darling of the automobiile industry, The Danish Road Safety Council - Rådet for Sikker Trafik. They're campaigning like it's 1952 and nobody seems to be able to stop them. That 70% figure? One study. From Norway. Hardly empirical evidence. (Their pornographic obsession with bicycle helmets also quotes only one study that fits their ideology, not the body of science available to the rational souls among us.) They've also been pushing their Fear Pornography for years here in Denmark, despite their complete lack of respect for A. liveable cities and B. science.

Basically, if you feel the need to advertise reflective clothing for pedestrians and cyclists, you are advertising your complete ineptitude about building safe and liveable cities. You are shouting to the world that you believe cars are king and everyone else is at their mercy.

That the Danish police allow a 60 km/h zone in the heart of the city is as old-fashioned as it is disgusting. There is massive evidence that 30 km/h zones save lives and reduce injury. We've even published a study highlighting the facts. There is good reason that over 120 cities in Europe have implemented them. The Danish Road Safety Council is silent on the subject. It messes with their car centric heads, apparently. In fact, this blog is the only voice for 30 km/h zones in Copenhagen - and other Danish cities - in the wilderness. Oh, and this Facebook group.

If there was a 30 km/h zone on that street last night, that girl would have had a spectacular chance of surviving. Whoever has been standing in the way of 30 km/h zones has her blood - and the blood of many others, like this 10 year old girl - on their hands.

Ignoring the Bull. And getting away with it. Both the Danish Road Safety Council and the Danish police. At the expense of human life and suffering. Without any legal implication whatsoever. Is this democracy? No. A young woman is dead, even though she could have survived.

If there was some sort of safety nanny balance in the messaging, it might (okay not really) make it a bit better. We know, for example, that black cars are more likely to be involved in accidents. Because you can't see them at night - or even during the day. Are the Danish Police or The Danish Road Safety Council tweeting about putting reflective tape on cars to increase visibility? Nah. That would be rational and intelligent. Are they campaigning for motorist helmets based on Australian government studies? Nah. Don't mess with cars.

We've proposed health warning for cars, in line with those on cigarette packs. We've exposed car-centric nonsense from the Copenhagen Police here and from the Danish Road Safety Council here and here and here, as well as a philospher's call for having them shut down.

I trust the police to take care of police business. Do what they're trained to do and what they're knowledgeable about. Traffic safety is not one of those things. Get off my streets.

5 comments:

dr2chase said...

Yup. I manage to see all sorts of things in the dark with my puny bicycle headlght -- dogs with their reflective eyeballs, tiny little reflective bits on shoes and backpacks, and the glow of cellphones. All it takes is a sincere desire not to run into someone in the dark, and all the rest follows.

And perhaps Denmark does a better job of enforcing actual traffic laws, but here in the US we have no business shaming people for breaking imaginary laws until we do a much better job with the real ones.

SouthLakesMom said...

There is a crosswalk near my home that goes between subsidized housing and a 7-11. Most of the people using it at night are dark skinned and wear dark clothing. The crossing is not lighted at all.

The speed limit is 35mph/56kph and the crosswalk is near the base of a downhill.

I have begged the authorities to put in lights that are activated when someone steps into the crosswalk, but the pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

The worst part is that this is very near a high school. Inexperienced drivers + pedestrians who think they're safe because they're in a crosswalk + no illumination + 56kph = disaster waiting to happen.

Alex Rybakoff said...

Same shit in Finland :(

I see news where they blame pedestrians all the time. The most recent one says:

"Car owner was driving slowly when a man in black clothes and without reflectors ran into the crosswalk".

Lars Barfred said...

I am quite positive that its not a 60 km/h zone but 50 km/h, was 40 km/h for a short while, but only because signes were changed prematurely to police approval, and Police vetoed.
Doing 60 in a 50 is scientifically proven to increase rate of accidents to same level as driving with 0,8 promille in your blood stream.

Further the area is a known to all disco/night club area, which means drunk people are the rule, and this dictates increased caution by drivers, who are in all cases obliged to drive according to local conditions. A local taxi driver cannot claim to know about theese special conditions.

Lars Barfred said...

A local taxi driver cannot claim to NOT know about theese special conditions.