Representatives from The Toronto Police and Traffic Services have had to step up public awareness of basic safety issues after 16 pedestrians have been injured in only 2 days. The most regrettable accidents are the ones that could easily have been avoided, and this particular rash of incidents points to many small factors that are entirely within the control of Pedestrians. So once again, we need to look at a problem from the point of view of personal responsibility, before we can start to fine tune the external factors that would help alleviate traffic and safety issues for everyone…
Most people are pretty good at thinking on their feet, but nobody’s arguing that we couldn’t use better set protocols to fall back on as well…Especially when trying to avoid dangerous urban traffic snags, or at least unsnarling any incidents with an added measure of basic diplomacy. But how do we optimize the flow, and smooth the social bumps, without conceding our freedom and Autonomy to some vision of greater “efficiency”. Some pre-Orwellian version Central Traffic Control that safely auto-pilots us around within rails and fences like well-tempered livestock…
Deep down, most people might prefer being enabled with better social protocols available to them when it comes to negotiating their way through traffic. Systems that don’t dictate, but rather relate conditions (such as who arrived first at an intersection!) in a more universally effective fashion without needing to rely on systems that need to change the world around us first.
Unfortunately, popularised use of public CB Radio never made it past the 70’s, so the only usable ‘public broadcast’ tools that we have on the road are a handful of visual signals, and our crude but effectively alarming horns and bells. Nevertheless, since Cyclists still have the most safety to lose in any traffic mêlées, let’s pause to consider a communications experiment that involves our existing but oddly underused bike bells…Rather than just ringing them willy-nilly without rhythm or good reason.
Anybody who’s been anywhere near a moving electric car has probably been astounded by the stealth of it’s silent approach, but this became a safety concern for some special interest groups, who felt that industry standards were needed for everyone’s greater safety. The question isn’t so much ‘why’, as much as it is ‘how’ this noise will be made, and ‘what’ will it sound like? So, back in 2008, the experts at the Geneva-based United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the body responsible for harmonizing global vehicle regulations, started working on a set of minimum noise standards designed to prevent the uber-quiet Electric Vehicles (EV’s) from becoming a safety risk to Pedestrians – particularly young children and the blind. The results of this initiative are the Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians (VSP) standards, which we can already see (uhm ‘hear’) demonstrated in the new Nissan Leaf.
After having to delve into the underhanded PR methods that were used to develop and support the temporary Police State that was invoked during Toronto’s G20 Summit, it’s still rather difficult to remind ourselves of the beneficial roles that PR plays in forming and supporting Public Opinion. Rather than rehashing the litany of horrifying physical abuses and civil rights violations from last weekend though, let’s attempt to remind ourselves the role that PR can play in creating an orderly and peaceful society.
Here’s a great little piece of German PR that really helps put a proper perspective on how so many many more people could manage to peacefully use public roadways everyday… if they weren’t taking up so much more space with single-occupancy cars.
In case we’ve forgotten…Here’s what a clear and beneficial PR Message looks like:
I was recently inspired by a photograph taken of a city street that carried a clear an beneficial message for anybody who saw it…All without any need to explain the self-evident and underlying message. Unfortunately, rather than delving into the superb PR methods that were used to develop that message (and it’s sense of collective order and civic pride), I’ve instead been overcome by the bitter sense of revulsion created by the PR methods used to support and condone the temporary Police State that was invoked during Toronto’s G20 Summit. A lingering stain which continues to mark both our own city’s badly shaken sense of security, as well as marking out what little true journalism we can actually expect our the Mainstream Media after seeing how blatant violations of civil rights were either upheld or even condoned by some members of the Media as examples of a necessary Social Order. It seemed that only Reporters on the ground amidst the carnage were reporting a clear picture of the events. The CTV are one of the few and notable examples of Media coverage that at least attempted to present a bigger picture to the slanted mainstream coverage…
The Media offered us the standard coverage to statements from the world leadership that recently assembled for the enormously costly and disruptive Toronto G20 Summit proceedings in Toronto. Sadly, the events surrounding these closed meetings have largely overshadowed the positive spin attached to any such hollow pronouncements, and have actually done far more to damage our social fabric than any amount of new fiscal policy could ever repair.
Even after the fallout from those widely broadcasted and curiously unattended police car fires has settled back to the ground where nothing now remains but the street-stains, it’s become increasingly clear that only certain segments of the mainstream media can be expected to question the status quo, and remark that the Police actually did the most damage to our mild-mannered city not only by failing to keep the peace and apprehending a very conspicuous minority of vandals during their detestably destructive crime spree, but more importantly in visibly perpetrating almost all of the the actual physical violence against our primarily peaceful assemblies of unarmed and passive Citizenry. While thugs appeared to have free reign of the streets,
Photo by Michael Talbot, CityNews.ca