Bravo to the Globe and Mail, self-described as Canada's National Newspaper, for an editorial that finally gets the point about pedestrian safety. In an era of victim blaming and complaining about distracted walking, the editorial starts with a bang:
Any unnecessary, violent death should always be deeply disturbing. But one category of death gets far less attention than it deserves – to the point where it has been largely normalized as the acceptable by-product of our busy, mobile society.The killing of pedestrians is an overlooked tragedy in a car-centred culture that prefers to regard road deaths as both accidental and inevitable.
They are neither – at least not if you’re determined to make our cities safe places where people can go for a walk without fear of sudden death or disability.
That last sentence is the one that makes the point we have made so many times, that we shouldn’t have to walk in fear, even on the sidewalks these days. That we shouldn’t have to dress up like construction workers just to go out.
The Globe also ignores all the fake statistics about the dangers of distracted walking and writes:
Blame-the-victim types will say that distracted pedestrians are the agents of their own misfortune – the image of the ear-budded millennial staring down at a phone while blindly stepping into traffic is often trotted out. But according to a long-term analysis of the data, of the 23,240 pedestrian deaths in the U.S. between 2010 and 2014, portable electronic devices were a factor in only 25 cases.
They conclude that it is time to fix our cities, which they note are designed to serve cars and drivers, where a “certain amount of death is a predictable byproduct.” And that it is not just about regulation, it is also about design.
Bravo. Instead of complaining about distracted walkers (like most of the comments to the article do) or yelling for more enforcement, they get the important stuff: slow everyone down through design. It is the true essence of Vision Zero.
It is time to undo this destructive choice – by dropping speed limits, narrowing roads, extending curbs at crossings, and providing safety islands on broad, busy streets. Politicians must find the courage to resist the crude war-on-the-car arguments that will inevitably result. Pedestrians already have priority under the law. It is time they had it in reality.
This is so different from what we get in another Toronto paper, where a certain writer insults cyclists, drivers and claims "Pedestrians are dim-witted, dark-cloaked dreamers who drift all over God’s green acre with a dopey sense of entitlement."
Of course the comments to the post complain about the idiot pedestrians who don't obey the rules and go on about how "after dark the masses are dressed in their finest and darkest fashions...it is a miracle more are not hit!" and "don't just demonize car drivers!" and even "I also suggest that the author of this piece is lying. Or, more precisely, he's trying to mislead by cherry-picking what portions of the truth he is referencing." -I get the same on TreeHugger.
But the Globe and Mail gets the point: We want to walk without fear. It summarizes a couple of years worth of TreeHugger arguments, many here in related links: