By Ryan McGreal
Published December 11, 2012
The Toronto Star's Christopher Hume wastes no time taking the police to task for blaming the victims in the latest cluster of pedestrian collisions.
Nine pedestrians were hit by cars Monday morning, and the police responded by advising people to wear light-coloured clothing.
This is a sign not just that the force has failed miserably to keep the streets of Toronto safe for pedestrians, but also that it has no real interest in doing so.
Just like the police officer (also from Toronto) who inspired the global SlutWalk movement last year after saying "women should avoid dressing like sluts" if they don't want to be sexually assaulted, this new message from the police shifts the blame for injuries onto pedestrians themselves.
Never mind that many of the pedestrians injured recently were crossing the street safely and legally, and some were even on the sidewalk when they were struck!
But it scarcely makes more sense to blame drivers than to blame pedestrians, given the predictable regularity of pedestrian injuries. At some point, we need to stop pointing the finger at individual actions and look at how the street network makes injuries not only possible but inevitable.
Hume's closing paragraph cuts to the bone of what's wrong:
And after decades of designing streets for cars, planners, traffic engineers and the whole motley crew of municipal officialdom could afford to take a look at what it's done to the city. Each department ensconced within its silo, oblivious of context, fails to see the forest for the trees, or in this case, Torontonians for the traffic.
As we recently, tragically saw in Hamilton, our own city is no better at committing to a policy that prioritizes safe, accessible, healthy neighbourhoods over fast automobile flow.
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