Not for the first time, a public agency in Toronto is telling pedestrians to Do the Bright Thing and dress up so that car and bus drivers can see them more easily. No matter that according to a recent Toronto Public Health study, two thirds of accidents happen at intersections which are usually well-lit, and 67 percent of pedestrian-vehicle collisions are due to driver error. Luke Simcoe writes in Metro News:
“If you look at all the statistics, the number one problem is driver action,” said lawyer and pedestrian advocate Patrick Brown. “So, to turn around and point the finger at somebody’s choice of clothing suggests you don’t understand what’s really going on out there.”
80% of pedestrians wear dark clothing; that's the trend. That shouldn't mean that they should keep getting hit at brightly lit intersections and crosswalks where they have right of way. That doesn't mean that they should have to dress up like construction workers as recommended by Toronto Police.
Or as they recommend in New York City, that pedestrians should not only wear reflective clothing but should actually carry flashlights at night.
The reasons that pedestrians are being hit is generally, most often because the drivers are not paying attention and making mistakes. 85 per cent of the time pedestrians are hit by TTC vehicles, pedestrians were walking with the right of way.
On Torontoist, David Hains points out the ludicrousness of this all, how responsibility was shifted from the driver to the pedestrian through the jaywalking campaigns in the 20s and 30s, continuing pretty much to this day.
...through a series of campaigns, the drivers-first sensibility is codified in both law and culture. Consider how laughable it would be to ask motorists to drive brightly coloured vehicles, so that pedestrians could better see them.
The fact that most people like to wear black is not going to change. Architects have known this for years, but a recent study quoted in the Independent confirms it: among all colours that people wear,
Black came first or second in all the positive qualities, including confidence, intelligence and sexiness, and "barely figured" in less admirable traits, such as arrogance. The survey also found that black is the colour that each gender likes the most on the other - 66 per cent of women liked to see men in black, and black was the most popular choice of colour for women's clothes amongst men.
The absolute worst colours if you want to actually have a life are exactly the bright ones that the Toronto authorities want us to wear. So expecting young people who are out trying to have a social life at night to dress up in day-glo with a Petzl on their head is probably a lost cause.
The studies have shown that in the majority of cases, the collisions are the drivers' fault. So why not enforce the rules on cars, drop the speed limits as has been recommended many times, instead of blaming the victims. Because they are not going to change, particularly if they want a date.
Human nature is straightforward: people want to wear black, and drivers want to speed and look at their phones. Who's doing something wrong?