As you may have heard there has been 14 pedestrian deaths resulting from collisions with motor vehicle drivers in Toronto in 2010. This seems to a very high number and no is really sure what to make of it. The City of Toronto and Toronto Police have been cracking down on jaywalkers and illegal pedestrian activity. As well the Toronto city councilor Bill Saundercook is calling for identification of collision hot-spots.
A few interesting things to think about on this one:
1) Christoper Hume from the Toronto Star has a very interesting article on Jaywalking. Here’s what I think is the most interesting part:
“In recent days, officers have been telling Toronto pedestrians that it doesn’t matter if they are in the right; cars are bigger and go faster. But, they remind us, it’s pedestrians who get killed, not drivers.
That may be true, but one wonders whether the argument would hold if, for example, we were talking about domestic violence. Husbands tend to be bigger and stronger, so if you’re a woman, just stay out of their way. Highly unlikely.”
2) It is very interesting to start thinking about the language used when discussing encounters between pedestrians and people in cars. First, think about the word accident. If we us accident to describe someone being hit by a car we are assuming no fault. But no fault from both parties or is there an implied fault…. let’s think back to point 1. Second, think about the word car. If we use the word car we completely dehumanize the person in the car. There are people in cars, we can call them drivers or motor vehicle users or something. So long as there are people driving cars we should not forget it.
3) Accident hotspots?! The Toronto Star published this map of the accidents. Do you see any hotspots? I think that my colleague Patrick Morency is probably going a bit crazy right now. Here is a quote from one of his papers:
“Most pedestrians were injured at locations that would have been missed by the black spot approach. This high- risk preventive strategy cannot substantially reduce the total number of injured or the insecurity that many pedestrians experience when walking. Considering the large number and widespread occurrence of pedestrian crashes in Montreal, prevention strategies should include comprehensive environmental measures such as global reduction of traffic volume and speed.”
So basically let’s start thinking about how we justify our approaches, how we talk about this issue and how to create global reductions in drivers speeds. Not to say that it is all that simple because the question of were to start remains. Do we reduce driver speeds using limits, traffic calming, others???