In Toronto, the police tell pedestrians to Do the Bright Thing and dress up in day-glo. BMW is saying much the same thing. In both posts, commenters take issue with my calling this "blaming the victim" and suggest that it only makes sense to dress in light and bright clothes when you go out at night. I agree.
But now the New York Police Department has upped the ante. Streetsblog points to a notice that makes it sound like pedestrians are in a war zone where they might be killed at any second:
- Cross only at corners, preferably those with a traffic light.
- Look left, right and left again before crossing and be on the lookout.
- Keep scanning for vehicles as you cross.
- Hold your hand up or do what ever it takes to make yourself more visible to drivers.
- Avoid walking in the dark and during bad weather such as snow, ice or fog.
- Make eye contact with the driver before crossing in front of a vehicle.
- Walk and cross with other pedestrians whenever possible.
- Listen for engine noises of backing vehicles when you are in a parking lot, near a driveway or crossing mid-block.
- Wear bright-colored clothing, especially if you walk at night. Use a flashlight if you walk at night.
In other words, "Move like a hunted animal."
Now I agree that we shouldn't go out at night dressed like the Amish or Hasidim, but the whole tone of this is that it's dangerous out there. Don't go out at night. Stay inside in winter. Travel in packs. Raise your hands and submit in the face of power. And of course, carry a flashlight.
It is inculcating a culture of fear, that the only safe place to be is encased inside an automobile. And if you get in their way and do not have the proper attitude or defences, you will be squished like a bug. And you will be blamed for it. As the bike snob nailed it in a tweet,
Can't wait for the new tabloid articles. "Pedestrian killed by curb-jumping SUV, the victim was not carrying a flashlight."— Bike Snob NYC (@bikesnobnyc) November 13, 2013