Monday, November 4, 2019

City PSA on Time Change and Safety Needs Paradigm Change Itself

With the time change, the City published a PSA on safety, "Time Change Means Added Risk for Cyclists and Walkers, so Play it Safe."

While it is mostly well-meaning, it is also basically (or perhaps wholly) copy-and-paste from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an autoist organization. The phrase "added risk for" can mean added risk to, with cyclists and walkers the objects of elevated risks from people driving, but the rhetoric really focuses on seemingly risky behavior, with cyclists and walkers the subjects who might make apparently bad decisions. It's victim-blamey.

Rather than less driving and slower driving, we propose
requirements for Pedestrian Safety Equipment via Twitter
The PSA really operates to make people who might walk and bike anxious they are doing it the wrong way, and then functions to reassure drivers they are innocent and can proceed with business as usual.

The PSA is not about change; it's about maintaining the autoist status quo.

We need to apply the emission and climate lens
to all other areas of city activity and decision
Now that we have completed our initial greenhouse gas assessment, and see the great majority of emissions come from our driving, this understanding needs to inform our other analyses and actions.

In this light, the PSA is oblivious and autoist.

It's about driving, not about safety on urban streets. It's about displacing the burden for safety onto those who would walk or bike. It's about making the act of walking or biking complicated with special procedures and special equipment for the nighttime.

Our earlier campaign to criminalize walking:
"The forgotten history of how automakers
invented the crime of 'jaywalking'"
The safety imperative is: Don't hit people. Drivers are the ones who employ lethal force. If you are driving so fast you can't see people, you are driving too fast. Maybe the expectation at night that we can zoom about the city is wrong. Maybe we need slower speeds.

Without that basic frame of "don't hit people," everything, no matter how reasonable it otherwise might be, is victim-blaming.

Even then, the advice is bad: People who bike should do so "preferably away from roads altogether"? Don't go to a restaurant, or any destination on a road, for heaven's sake! In fact, don't bike at all at night.

But if we were serious about greenhouse gas and climate and safety, our advice instead would be: Don't drive.

Don't drive at night if you don't have to. Take the bus, walk, or bike.  The more people who walk, bike, or bus, and the less people who drive, the safer we all will be. The better our air and climate will be.

Driving itself is the public health and safety problem!

Get out of the way and don't use your bike for transportation
The typo suggests this is not really very thoughtful

Previously on jaywalking and our wayward framing on safety:

No comments: