Read about it:
“A middle-aged man was fatally struck by a truck.” If we read traffic crash reporting articles more critically, we can see a pattern. The report avoids naming the driver of the vehicle, or may not refer to any driver at all. Very often the incident is described in terms that presuppose innocence on the part of the driver, with built-in excuses such as, “it was dark and the pedestrian was not wearing reflective clothing.” This contributes to the worsening problem of traffic injuries and fatalities, and car culture: that roads were designed for and belong to cars.
When covering car crashes, be careful not to blame the victim
By Meg Dalton, APRIL 4, 2018
“She ran into traffic. He was wearing dark clothing. They didn’t use the crosswalk. In the aftermath of crashes between drivers and vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, there’s a tendency to blame the victim. It’s just one way the media fails to properly cover traffic collisions, according to a new report from MacEwan University”
Read about it:
Neglecting to name a driver of a vehicle, or to describe an incident with details of negligence on the part of the victim perpetuates car culture, and the increasing numbers of traffic injuries and deaths of the most vulnerable road users.
Language and Perception matters. What are crash report articles really saying?
“Inclusion or exclusion of an agent affects perception of
blame. Sentences with agents make the actions of the
perpetrator clear and reduce victim blaming.”
Kelcie Ralph | Rutgers
Evan Iacobucci | Rutgers
Calvin Thigpen | Lime
Tara Goddard | Texas A&M
“Around one fifth of the 37,000 annual traffic deaths in the United States are
bicyclists or pedestrians. Despite this figure, there is little public outcry about
these vulnerable road user (VRU) deaths. Media coverage has been shown to shape public perceptions in other fields, primarily by signaling which topics merit attention (agenda-setting) and by infuencing how those issues are
interpreted (framing). This study examines how local news outlets report car crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists.”
Read the report:
Yesterday a tweet from a local newspaper article described a traffic fatality saying “a man was killed when struck by a truck.” The victim was named, with lots of background information, but nothing about the driver of the truck. There is a distinct presumption of innocence. This is typical reporting of most traffic incidents. The victim may also be described as not wearing reflective clothing, not wearing a helmet, walking outside a crosswalk, “jaywalking” (Jaywalking was invented to make way for cars), not paying attention, or the worst excuses: “she came or of nowhere”, or “I didn’t see him”.
How Coverage of Pedestrian Fatalities Dehumanizes Victims and Absolves Drivers
A pedestrian rule breaker crossing outside of an intersection.
Use of passive voice
Press accounts tend to use the passive voice when describing traffic fatalities. As in, “A pedestrian was hit by a car.” Only three out of 71 articles used the active voice. How Coverage of Pedestrian Fatalities Dehumanizes Victims and Absolves Drivers
The passive voice “conveys subtle messages about blame and responsibility,” writes Magusin, “distancing the driver from the act.” And that affects the way people perceive events and assign culpability.
Public streets not just for car owners: Sorensen
Public streets should be for everyone, not just car owners. Our friends in Asbury Park Complete Streets have been successful in implementing a “road diet” on Main Street in Asbury Park. This current project converts four lanes of traffic to a three-lane configuration with a turning lane and bike lanes. It’s much safer for motorists and pedestrians. A road diet is a design tool that reverses six decades of road design focused solely on cars at the expense of pedestrians’ safety and general quality of life.
Every day we hear complaints about Jaywalkers. And almost every day we read articles about people walking dangerously, whether distracted, or walking against a signal, or crossing at unmarked intersections. We’ve covered this in several posts, like here, here, and here. Check out this article and click the links to learn more.
Research Explains Why Pedestrians ‘Break the Rules’
When pedestrians are hurt or injured, there’s a reflexive impulse in America to blame them, for jaywalking, or for being distracted.
But Smith’s videos found pedestrians’ behavior is influenced a lot by the environment: They’re more likely engage in risky behavior — like walking or rolling in the street or crossing mid-block — when the pedestrian infrastructure is incomplete or lacking.
Cyndi Steiner, Executive Director, NJBWC
Jerry Foster, President, West Windsor Bicycle Pedestrian Alliance
Oppose Statewide Sidewalk Riding Ban!
If living longer (#1) isn’t a good enough reason to ride a bike, how about free parking… and 43 other reasons?
Carlton Reed Press Gazette’s Transport Journalist of the Year, 2018
Cycling doesn’t just make you healthier, happier and more prosperous; study after laborious study shows that getting on your bike also helps make you a sharper, more thoughtful driver and it can even improve your sex life (bicyclists have buns of steel).
There are hundreds of benefits to bicycling but let’s stick to just 45. (I thought of that line while cycling – riding a bike gets your creative juices flowing, see #12.)
1. LIVE LONGER
A five-year study of 263,450 UK commuters, published in the British Medical Journal in 2017, found regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41%, and the incidence of cancer and heart disease by 45% and 46% respectively.
These amazing news clips from the 20s and 30s tell a story of how the automobile took over, but not without pushback from citizens and lawmakers. The US has a long way to go to become a nation that is willing to change the car culture, but it can happen. Even Copenhagen wasn’t always the bicycling capital of the world.
THEY SAW IT COMING: The Car Was Always The Cause of All the Problems in Our City
As we start the new year, let’s take a look back at how everyone knew the automobile was a menace, yet somehow let it take over anyway.
“The automobile has ruined our cities — choking our streets and making our communities less livable.
But Americans who care about cities saw it coming from the very first days of the Age of the Automobile. Residents wrote to their local newspapers, begging lawmakers to not capitulate to motorists or car makers as they sought to turn public streets into free parking lots. Reporters covered the rise of private ownership of cars as a scourge on our cities. Judges decried what too many people today think is normal: streets clogged by privately owned single-occupancy vehicles in the public right of way.”
See the news clippings: