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Scoffing at pedestrian safety

I am blown away by the backlash against a recent SDOT pedestrian safety campaign. You may be asking, Wait, there are people who are against a marketing campaign aimed at decreasing collisions between cars and people walking? Yes.

The charge was led by King 5, whose basic thesis is that the colorful umbrellas SDOT is giving away to promote the concept of visibility and stage a flash mob are not snowplows. Gold star, King 5, you’re right!

Erica at Publicola points out that the entire safety campaign, of which the umbrellas are only a small part, costs 0.015 percent of SDOT’s budget. SDOT says the point of the campaign is to help change pedestrian and driver behavior. Pedestrian-vehicle collision rates are much higher in winter months, so they launched a campaign (this is the second year) to try to change pedestrian and driver behavior.


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Why King 5 and folks decided to attack this program is beyond me. Their main interview was with the owner of Arundel Books at 1st and Madison who, Seattle Transit Blog points out, is a GOP delegate who loves Sarah Palin. He doesn’t have a point, but King 5 doesn’t seem to mind. It snowed, therefore we shouldn’t have a pedestrian safety campaign. Makes sense…

Meanwhile, SDOT and some excited dancers used the umbrellas in a flash mob at Westlake. If you listen close, you can almost hear the anti-pedestrian safety campaign people scolding the dancers from the sidelines: “Wipe that smile off your face, missy. You can dance with your friends as soon as you learn to drive a snowplow!”

Pedestrian safety is a serious issue and worth spending time and money on. Luckily, this misguided media blowup has the potential to give the campaign some added attention. People need to know about the increase in pedestrian collisions during the winter. People need to see a map showing that collisions almost always happen at intersections so they can walk/drive differently.

I commend SDOT for trying to increase pedestrian safety while having a good time. Flash mobs aren’t really my thing, but the big group of people involved seemed to really be enjoying themselves. Add the word-of-mouth messaging from those there and those who witnessed it to all the people who will watch the video online, and I would say that’s a pretty successful campaign. Plus now some people who are shopping in downtown businesses will be able to use an umbrella if it starts raining. That ain’t a bad thing, either.


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6 responses to “Scoffing at pedestrian safety”

  1. Quick glance, looks like Pike is more dangerous than Pine… I wonder why that is. Wait, probably from drunks in the street during the weekend, so that makes sense.

  2. JRF

    Some perspective…

    The economic impact of motor vehicle crashes on U.S. roadways has reached $230.6 billion a year–nearly 2.3 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product or an average of $820 for every person living in the country–the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports.[1]

    So, for the population of Seattle, that is around $490 million a year to deal with cars crashing into things. Also…

    the agency found that the average readway[sic] fatality has economic costs of $977,000, while the costs associated with a critically injured crash survivor surpasses $1 million.

    Based on recent road diet implementation costs, if the diet prevents just one such crash, the investment easily pays for itself at least 10 times over.

    I’ll happily not shop at establishments that have no respect for my safety, thank you.

    [1] http://bicycleuniverse.info/transpo/almanac-safety.html

  3. Rider8

    Sure enough. The guy’s a right wing nutcase.

    I can’t believe King5 picked it up and ran with it. So gullible!

  4. You’re right – we dancers really did enjoy ourselves! Here’s the official video of the Westlake Center flash mob. Thanks for the nice article!

  5. RA

    I cannot imagine what someone would have against pedestrian safety. That is just idiotic. I’m glad I’ve never shopped at that books store and I’m going to tell everyone to boycott them. If the owner Phillip Bevis is going to take such a ridiculous stance against pedestrians like me, then they can go without any of my business. Screw him.

  6. EricKNSeattle

    I was there dancing in the sun shine. We went through maybe 50 broken umbrellas. And there were about 60 or so of us who danced. So the whole thing cost a little over a grand. The unity and excitement of doing something good for our community through song and dance was PRICELESS. The people who complain about this project will not be so vocal when thier wife, child, husband gets plowed over at 4:00 in the afternoon on a Friday as some one is hurridly escaping downtown to race home to be with their family, or meet friends at a bar.
    I thought this was a great perspective with regards to the numbers and stats.
    E.

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