What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

30 August 2017

Exercise Caution

A few weeks ago, an outrageous, victim-blaming, simply awful supposed "PSA" appeared in Portland. The backlash against it was so swift and severe that agencies involved tripped over themselves in the scramble to get their names disassociated with it, and the video was soon taken down.

Many, many stills from it appeared on Twitter as advocates explained for what is surely the thousandth time why encouraging dangerous driving while blaming pedestrians for their own deaths is a terrible idea. For example, one of the personas created for a video was a woman who, when she gets the "Walk" signal at an intersection, immediately steps into the crosswalk.

There's another expression for that phenomenon: Working As Designed.

This light means something. I know, I know, we're all
surprised to hear that. Source: lou suSi on freeimages.com.
Seriously, that's what the signal is for. You get the light, you go. You know, like people do in cars? When the light turns green? Same idea. There's no excuse for ridiculing someone for using the traffic signals exactly as they were meant to be used. There are no buts about this. Red light = drivers stop behind the giant white line drawn on the road for that purpose. There should be no reason why a pedestrian can't enter the crosswalk immediately upon getting a signal.

But of course, as long as careless drivers are allowed to continue piloting fast and heavy machines around our streets, pedestrians will have to exercise a disproportionate amount of caution. This shouldn't be normalized into a PSA. This is a problem that cities need to be addressing, to find out why their pedestrians aren't safe and take steps to fix it.

By the way, this is exactly the reason why pedestrians cross midblock between intersections, or why we'll cross against the light if the street is empty. Drivers sitting at a red light are simply not to be trusted, especially right-turning drivers. At an intersection near my house, a right-turning driver never looking for pedestrians and nearly mowing someone down as a result happens dozens of times per day. Some of them never bother to stop for the red light as they try to coast through their turn. I wish the city would make that intersection "No Turn On Red," because it's a high pedestrian corridor (it's near bus stops, a Kroger, residences, schools, and a university) and the number of near-misses is scary-high.

I'm glad the video was taken down. I hope the producers, funders, etc. have learned something. And perhaps the next PSA should be about what those big lines on the ground are for.

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