By Dom Nozzi
October 7, 2017
A century ago, as Peter Norton points out in his book Fighting Traffic, nearly all of us would blame a motorist in a crash that injured or killed a pedestrian or bicyclist.
But today the situation is reversed.
The knee-jerk response in our age is to blame the pedestrian. To blame the victim. It is akin to blaming a woman for being raped because she dressed “too provocatively.” Or was walking alone at night.
In the very rare instances when a community decides to use effective tactics to reduce the number of times a motorist kills a pedestrian (by, for example, designing the street to obligate slower, attentive driving), many motorists will scream “WAR ON CARS!!” This creates an enormous political obstacle to the creation of a safer transportation system.
Such WAR ON CARS! screamers conveniently forget that tens of thousands of pedestrians are killed by motorists every year. And that not a single motorist has ever been killed after being hit by a pedestrian.
Sounds more like a war on pedestrians to me…
I refer to “effective” tactics to improve safety, because nearly all US cities are guilty of spending the past century using, over and over again, ineffective tactics: More safety signage. More safety lighting. More safety paint. More safety education. And more safety enforcement.
Since our roads are now more dangerous than ever following a century of repeatedly doubling down on those ineffective tactics, maybe it is finally time to realize that these conventional safety tactics are a failure.