“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”
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.”
“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.”
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
By Angie Schmitt
A pedestrian rule breaker crossing outside of an intersection.
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.
Kenny Sorensen, the talented and well-known musician has been advocating for safe infrastructure for bicycling for years. This is his letter to the editor of the Asbury Park Press. A road diet can be the solution. “While New Jersey traffic fatalities have declined slightly, pedestrian and bicycle deaths have sharply increased. This is a trend nationwide. More pedestrians and bicyclists are being killed and injured by cars than ever before.” #slowthecars Learn more…
Public streets not just for car owners: Sorensen
Ken Sorensen Jan. 11, 2019
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’
By Angie Schmitt
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.
Jerry Foster, President, West Windsor Bicycle Pedestrian Alliance
Oppose Statewide Sidewalk Riding Ban!
Adults and children alike ride on the sidewalk because they do not feel safe riding in the roadway. Our state legislators should be focused on making roads safer for bike riders rather than forcing riders onto heavily trafficked, congested, unsafe roads. Our state has done little to pass a safe passing law that would require motorists to pass bike riders and pedestrians at a safe distance (a “three foot” or “four foot” law), and even less towards adopting a Vision Zero plan that would eliminate road deaths statewide. Further, the state has had a Complete Streets policy since 2009 yet very little has been done in terms of street infrastructure to accommodate all road users, including pedestrians and bike riders, on state roads. Over 140 municipalities and eight counties have passed these same Complete Streets policies, but again, very few are actually implemented. Yet the state legislature appears eager to pass a bill that will force bike riders into the streets by ending sidewalk riding statewide.
We oppose amendment to A1810, the proposed statewide ban on sidewalk bicycle riding. It is unnecessary and works against children, underserved and other utilitarian riders who are trying to get to work safely. The state needs to make substantial efforts to make roads safer for bike riders, and should not be banning sidewalk riding! The decision about sidewalk riding should be left to cities to determine which streets are safe for bicycle riding and where people may have to ride on sidewalks.
Like cities all over the US, Copenhagen once embraced car culture as a mark of economic advancement after the depression, and post WWII. By the mid-1960s streets were clogged with cars. More and more traffic fatalities occurred, and cars had a environmental impacts. Then came the oil crisis of 1973…and Copenhagen responded differently than the US. Instead of implementing the dangerous “right turn on red” to keep cars moving to save gas, Copenhagen made it less desirable to drive and easier and safer to ride bikes. While we’ve struggled more and more over the years with traffic congestion, crashes, and hard-to-find parking, Copenhageners protested, and have been getting more and more bike infrastructure ever since. Here’s how it was done.
James Thoem is a project manager with Copenhagenize, a consultancy that works with cities to create more bicycle-friendly streets. He is working on a project for the City of Detroit, creating its entire greater downtown bicycle strategy.
What Bicycle-Friendly Copenhagen Can Teach Us About Commuting
Matt Bubbers Copenhagen Special to the Globe and Mail
If living longer (#1) isn’t a good enough reason to ride a bike, how about free parking… and 43 other reasons?
Drive Sharper, Live Longer, Look Sexier And 42 Other Reasons To Ride A Bicycle In 2019
Carlton Reed Press Gazette’s Transport Journalist of the Year, 2018
Ride more in 2019!
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.
By Ben Verde
“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.”
Which kind of gentrifier are you? We have to admit if the shoe fits…
If you were been born in your city, chances are you’re not one. But pretty much anyone, particularly white, middle or upper income, who has moved into a city just as it’s beginning to be revived could be considered a gentrifier. Who wouldn’t want to live in a city where housing is affordable, as coffee shops and galleries are springing up? BUT:
“The systemic racism behind the depressed real estate values benefiting the gentrifier is one reason why gentrification is considered, as I often say, a four-letter word. Both middle-class residents who are resisting gentrification and those who are enjoying it will inevitably — in some way — reinforce these injustices.”
Four Types of Gentrifiers You See in Your Neighborhood