In search of a cure for Stockholm Syndrome*.

‘Road Safety Week’ comes and goes. It is co-ordinated by the road safety charity ‘Brake‘, with support from Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency. “New Zealand has higher rates of road deaths and injuries than many other developed countries”, apparently.

The campaigns “raise awareness of road safety. It’s about getting people to think more about their choices and actions on the roads. Being distracted behind the wheel can be deadly”.

So now you know. I guess the same campaigns are wheeled out every year and the box labelled ‘Road Safety’ will be given the ‘completed’ tick, once again. It’s pretty easy to be cynical about this kind of thing. You only have to venture out into the streets of this city to be able to validate the accuracy of the data about our ‘deadly streets’.

But that’s not all.

Brake chose to use the personal story of a pedestrian, hit by a motorist while crossing a busy Auckland street, as a part of the campaign. The incident has ‘had life-changing consequences for the victim’. A tragedy retold with the intention of generating action to make our streets safer? Think again.

If I had walked to the pedestrian crossing at the traffic lights I might have been late for work. Instead, I ventured to the centre line where I was struck by a right turning vehicle. Part of the healing process for me is saying to people to think before you ‘jay-walk’. Everybody’s too busy to go and walk that little bit further to get to the pedestrian crossing – but why take the risk?

The victim was run over while standing on the centre-line, opposite the pharmacy.

It’s called an arterial route. It’s used for moving cars. Lots of them. Quickly. Except when there are too many and they all go slowly.

The victim was trying to cross the road to get to the pharmacy. She was hit while standing on the centre line, outside the pharmacy. The pedestrian crossing that the victim refers to is not visible in the above street image. It is past the bend in the road.

At least this tragic tale gives us a pretty clear picture of where we are really at, in terms of making our cities safe for all road users. Stockholm Syndrome* is alive and well. ‘I’m sorry for getting run over. I will do better next time’ etc.

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, people are standing up and demanding action to stop the killing and maiming.

‘Cycling’ is sport and recreation. ‘Riding a bicycle’ is everyday activity. No sweat. As easy as walking, but faster.

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5 comments

  1. Safest place to RIDE a Push Bike is on the Right Hand Side of the Road FACING Oncoming Vehicles and alsobParked ones! As you can then both see each other and if need be the Cyclist can take advasive action to avoid an Accident , which can’t be seen if you are traveling in the same direction ! Car doors won’t be opened into the path of Cyclist’s.

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  2. In the absence of decent infrastructure and ‘bicycle-friendly’ policies, riding contra-flow does feel safer in certain circumstances. (And of course, perception of safety is just as important as real safety – if there is to be an increase in people choosing to ride bicycles). But like riding on the footpath, it is illegal to do so.
    But the illegality of riding on the footpath or riding contra-flow does not seem to stop these actions in Japan. Wheeled Pedestrians are common in Japan. A bicycle is viewed as an extension of walking.

    ‘As easy as walking, but faster. No sweat’.

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