21 OCTOBER 2013
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know all too well about what we call “Ignoring the Bull“. How in this car-centric society, non-motorised victim blaming is the norm. The status quo.
You may also know the media tendency – mostly in non-cycling countries – to report about cyclists killed or injured in collisions with motorised traffic. “Hit by a truck/fast moving vehicle…. wasn’t wearing a helmet.” Written by journalists who are hopelessly uninformed (and perhaps uninterested) about a helmet’s limited industrial design capability in collisions with vehicles. They never seem to write “Man fell from 3rd floor. Wasn’t wearing a helmet.” You get the point.
What we’re seeing lately is how the everpresent Culture of Fear is encroaching on our lives in a new(ish) way. The safety nannies and their lackies are now desperately trying to dictate what you, the citizen, wears. They are trying to make fashion choices for you in the name of their holy, car-centric “safety”.
Even here in Denmark.
Last night a young woman was killed in central Copenhagen. Run down by a taxi. By all accounts, she was crossing against the light. A young life snuffed out.
What we noticed in the articles about it was that it was really her own damn fault.
“The woman was dressed in black and it was therefore difficult for the taxi, which had the green light, to see her. The taxi driver was questioned and released. He is charged with manslaughter. According to the preliminary investigation, the driver was driving at 60 km/h when he hit the woman.”
Firstly, if you live in one of over 120 European cities, you’ll be stunned that there are 60 km/h zones in the heart of a densely populated European capital like Copenhagen. The 30 km/h zone movement is over 25 years young and has had an amazing effect on traffic safety in our cities. Just not in Denmark. Because the Danish police enjoy a veto regarding an issue they know nothing about. Namely traffic safety. There is a political majority in favour of 30 km/h zones in Copenhagen, but the police just shrug and say no. They are not even obliged to say WHY they’re saying no. Even though they have admitted to being completely ignorant on the subject of traffic safety.
The death of the young woman comes a day after one of the police departments in Denmark – Vestegns Politi – tweeted: “Do you and your child light up in the dark? Reflectors = 70% fewer accidents for pedestrians.” Seriously.
The Culture of Fear is a nasty bitch. Destructive to our societies. It is, however, rather easy to trace where messages come from. In this case, it’s the darling of the automobiile industry, The Danish Road Safety Council – Rådet for Sikker Trafik. They’re campaigning like it’s 1952 and nobody seems to be able to stop them. That 70% figure? One study. From Norway. Hardly empirical evidence. (Their pornographic obsession with bicycle helmets also quotes only one study that fits their ideology, not the body of science available to the rational souls among us.) They’ve also been pushing their Fear Pornography for years here in Denmark, despite their complete lack of respect for A. liveable cities and B. science.
Basically, if you feel the need to advertise reflective clothing for pedestrians and cyclists, you are advertising your complete ineptitude about building safe and liveable cities. You are shouting to the world that you believe cars are king and everyone else is at their mercy.
That the Danish police allow a 60 km/h zone in the heart of the city is as old-fashioned as it is disgusting. There is massive evidence that 30 km/h zones save lives and reduce injury. We’ve even published a study highlighting the facts. There is good reason that over 120 cities in Europe have implemented them. The Danish Road Safety Council is silent on the subject. It messes with their car centric heads, apparently. In fact, this blog is the only voice for 30 km/h zones in Copenhagen – and other Danish cities – in the wilderness. Oh, and this Facebook group.
If there was a 30 km/h zone on that street last night, that girl would have had a spectacular chance of surviving. Whoever has been standing in the way of 30 km/h zones has her blood – and the blood of many others, like this 10 year old girl – on their hands.
Ignoring the Bull. And getting away with it. Both the Danish Road Safety Council and the Danish police. At the expense of human life and suffering. Without any legal implication whatsoever. Is this democracy? No. A young woman is dead, even though she could have survived.
If there was some sort of safety nanny balance in the messaging, it might (okay not really) make it a bit better. We know, for example, that black cars are more likely to be involved in accidents. Because you can’t see them at night – or even during the day. Are the Danish Police or The Danish Road Safety Council tweeting about putting reflective tape on cars to increase visibility? Nah. That would be rational and intelligent. Are they campaigning for motorist helmets based on Australian government studies? Nah. Don’t mess with cars.
We’ve proposed health warning for cars, in line with those on cigarette packs. We’ve exposed car-centric nonsense from the Copenhagen Police here and from the Danish Road Safety Council here and here and here, as well as a philospher’s call for having them shut down.
I trust the police to take care of police business. Do what they’re trained to do and what they’re knowledgeable about. Traffic safety is not one of those things. Get off my streets.
Mentioning that a cyclist “was not wearing a helmet” is no less clueless than writing that of the seven passengers killed in the automobile accident none was wearing a seatbelt. As for cars being black that one made me laugh. If cyclists are that concerned and knowledgeable about the color of cars, why then do so many in Chicago insist on being able to ride ninja-style? The idea of having no lights on your bike at night after removing all reflective materials from said bike and then purposely dressing in all black garments makes me think that everyone needs to get serious about being visible.
In fact I have read at least one misinformed participant on the Chicago Cycling Forum grouse about having to wear brightly colored clothing to be seen. I guess one should take away from that bit of whining that everyone wants to operate incognito these days. We even have cars that get after market tinted windows that are so dark you cannot see into the passenger compartment during daylight hours.
What is everyone a drug dealer and in need of being unidentifiable?
Let’s hear some good sensible ideas about the best way for bicyclists to remain as visible as possible during even daylight hours. Here in the United States we are rather negative about things like daytime running lights on bicycles. I don’t know why but I have read more than one forum comment about not wanting to have bicycle compliance with laws that help to make you more visible. Yet the most visible bikes in the city these days are Divvy bikes which are easily seen from the front.
I will however not give them much in the way of kudos for the rear visibility in daylight hours. Have not had much of a chance to watch them at night. It would in my judgment be highly recommended for bicycles to have some uniform code of accessorizing that is as serious as that for automobiles.