Telling people to "cross the street as if your life depends on it" is just going to scare people out of walking. But hey, it worked for bikes!
Four pedestrians have died on the streets of Toronto, Canada, since the year began. One of them was crossing a street from a bus stop, hundreds of yards from the nearest crosswalk; two were seniors. So, logically, the Police have started a new pedestrian safety campaign titled, "Road safety… It starts with you."
Look first & walk second, make eye contact with drivers before crossing the road. By using crosswalks, crossovers or controlled intersections, you can make your commute a safer one. Drivers must also realize that a pedestrians safety is in your hands. #RoadSafetyStartsWithYou pic.twitter.com/d3NnPKmr9S— 13 Division (@TPS13Div) January 16, 2018
It appears to be modelled on a New York City campaign, given that it is Madison Avenue in the photo.
The Toronto campaign changes the word street to road, which I suppose solves the little TM trademark problem in the New York ad.
I have written about these kinds of campaigns many times, most recently when they did the shared responsibility thing in Alberta. My biggest concern with them is that walking is one of the healthiest things you can do, and we want people do do more of it. Instead, we have the Police creating a culture of fear, term I learned from Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize. He wrote:
Programs indirectly or directly implying that walking and cycling are dangerous are freely using classic Culture of Fear techniques to scare cyclists and pedestrians....Their baseline is clear. Cars are here to stay -- everyone else either get out of the way or bubble wrap yourself. What this communication subculture doesn’t talk about is rather telling. Basically anything that would brand cars as the problem -- or reducing the number of cars.
There are no campaigns to control pickups or SUVs, even though they kill at three times the rate of cars. There are no campaigns warning people that driving is the most dangerous thing people do in their daily lives. There are no campaigns to put helmets on drivers, even though it might save thousands of lives. There are no campaigns to make all cars high-viz or to ban distractions in cars.
Listening to music while walking to work or using the #ttc? Be aware you may be distracted & unaware of your surroundings. Be a visible & #predictable road user. Don’t cross mid-block #RoadSafetyStartsWithYou pic.twitter.com/6MeNeUTkvW— TPS Auxiliary 22 Div (@TPSAux22Div) January 16, 2018
Instead, the Toronto Police tell pedestrians to stop listening to music.
Dear @TPSOperations @TrafficServices: #RoadSafetyStartsWithYou— Walk Toronto (@Walk_TO) January 16, 2018
Left graph - dramatic drop in speeding tickets issued by Toronto Police after 2012 (via @globalnews) (compared with other GTA forces)
Right graph - spike in pedestrian fatalities in Toronto after 2012#SpeedKills pic.twitter.com/babHvevueW
There is no discussion of how the growth in the number of pedestrian fatalities is inversely proportional to the number of speeding tickets handed out in Toronto.
Imagine Plus lowering speed limits to 30km. And enforcing them 👮♂️ https://t.co/obrSo3buL4— Richard Peddie (@RichardAPeddie) January 16, 2018
There is no discussion of the real #visionzero things that could be done, like fixing our infrastructure and making the roads safe for cyclists and pedestrians as well as safer for drivers.
This is how we get a city where people drive their kids to school because they don't believe walking is safe. Where every time you cross the street you have to act like it is Death Race 2000 and your life is at risk. Where it's clear, as has been shown time and time again in Toronto, that the Police do not want pedestrians in the street slowing down cars. But it's the cars that are doing the killing; go after them instead of scaring pedestrians off the streets. This is really just a cop-out.