I previously have complained that the police in Toronto tend to blame the victims when pedestrians or cyclists get hit. Even if the car blows through a pedestrian crosswalk, they will note that the pedestrian was hard to see because of dark clothing. Now the Toronto Police have started a new campaign, Do the Bright Thing. From the press release:
This campaign will directly engage the public, with the goal to promote wearing reflective or bright−coloured clothing, when possible, and to heighten public awareness of pedestrian safety.....Pedestrians should use caution when using the roadway or near moving trains and vehicles (including buses), ensuring whenever possible that they are seen by motorists. Wearing brighter clothing or reflective materials can potentially increase a person’s visibility when interacting with other road traffic.
James Schwartz, a cycling and pedestrian activist and blogger at the Urban Country is, like this writer, outraged.
The Toronto Police Service, with its long history of blaming the victims when it comes to traffic fatalities, has kicked off its latest blame the victim campaign, which it is calling “Do the bright thing”. The campaign urges pedestrians to wear fluorescent clothing so that distracted drivers will have a better chance of seeing them before running them over and killing or maiming them.
This blame the victim style campaign is nothing short of an utter admission of failure in the Toronto Police Service’s ability to protect its citizens. By placing the blame on the most vulnerable road users, drivers are off the hook and can continue to drive distracted and/or too fast, while pedestrians bear the full weight of protecting themselves.
If the Toronto Police were doing their supposed job of “enforcing” traffic laws, they needn’t blame the victims. Urging pedestrians to walk around like Christmas tree ornaments does not get to the root of the problem. Careless, distracted and dangerous driving is the root cause of the majority of the ~100 or so pedestrian fatalities in Ontario each year, and walking around as a human light bulb is not going to fix that.
More at the Urban Country