Today on his blog Savannah Morning News columnist Bill Dawers examines a story, Ordinance aims to hike driver fines in Chatham County, published in his paper yesterday. In particular, Bill notes “the article is already spawning the same sort of pedestrian-bashing that begins anytime such ordinances are suggested.”
In fact, these types of comments show up reliably on any story having anything to do with pedestrians (or cyclists). The most offensive generally follow news of a person being killed by another person driving a car. The three most common themes are:
- People who get hit by cars generally deserve it.
- Increased jaywalking enforcement, instead of initiatives targeting drivers, will improve pedestrian safety.
- People should always use crosswalks and sidewalks, even when they do not exist.
It occurred to me that Bill and I have written a lot about pedestrian safety over the years. In reviewing my posts, I’m reminded that quite a few from the list below refer to his newspaper columns:
- The usual blaming of the victim follows latest pedestrian death
- Savannah’s Abercorn Street Extension is “Dangerous by Design”
- Acceptance of distracted driving revealed in warning to pedestrians?
- Local journalist makes the connection between street design and danger to pedestrians. Almost.
- Crash your car? No big deal. Get hit by a car? You’re a criminal!
- Jaywalking crackdown: What’s the goal?
- As jaywalking saga continues, public safety and public health questions remain unanswered
- Police use car vs. pedestrian crash to counter critics, warn walkers
- Rancor over jaywalking fines grows, but key question still unanswered
- Calling crashes “accidents,” even when they aren’t
- Truth, thoroughness needed in reporting on tragic traffic crashes
It can be discouraging to write about the same dangerous street designs, misguided law enforcement strategies, insufficient media coverage, and ignorant and mean spirited comments over and over. Still, there is reason to hope that our state can improve safety and usability for all users now that the Georgia Department of Transportation has adopted a Complete Streets policy.