Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pedestrians Jumping in Front of Cars all over Toronto? Or are the Cars Gunning for Them?

Our media is in a furor - it seems a pedestrian a day is getting hit by a vehicle in Toronto.  When this little interview graced my ears on Wednesday we were up to 7 or 8 but the carnage continues.
So my first question, unanswered (I might do some research at some point), is whether a pedestrian a day being hit is out of line for such a large city (and to get this number you have to add Port Credit and Mississauga to make it the Colossal Toronto Area, not just the Greater Toronto Area).  So is the media excited because this is new or an outlier of some kind, or just to get excited because the weather is nice and mild in Toronto so we need something else to report on?
But back to the interview.  A very strange notion of how to address risk is asserted.  Since a collision between a car and a pedestrian is almost sure to come out worse for the pedestrian, it is incumbent upon drivers to take a lot more care.  Well, if that is the solution we plan to rely on we're going to have a lot of damaged pedestrians.  I drive with much neurotic care trying not hit pedestrians, but I sure wish they showed the same care trying not to be hit by me.
Note in the interview above that the suggestion seems to be we should take better care of our intersections and crosswalks.  I have since been listening closely to the reports of the current incidents, hoping for details - the local media seem not to be clear about explaining what some of the pedestrians were up to, and I am sure there is a reason.
Most of them want to demonize cars and drivers, but it is perfectly clear few of those meetings occurred in an area set up for pedestrians to cross the road.  And most of the cases were in the dark, where it is exceedingly dangerous to go wandering into the roadway at other than assigned places.  But let's not mention the war.
In the days since listening to the interview above, I have found myself as a driver frequently dealing with idiots on their feet who behave confusingly at best, dangerously in many cases, and I have been using the brakes a little more than I like, NOWHERE NEAR intersections or crosswalks.  I suspect that investing in the latter will do little to reduce the rate of cars whacking pedestrians.  I suspect the pedestrians listened to the stupid interview and think that I of course now feel I must bear all the cost to reduce risk.  Sorry, I can't.
OK my take on risk, personalized.  When I am out walking, I recognize that it is exceptionally unwise for me to collide with a moving car (or a stationary one).  So I go out of my way to avoid wandering into what might be traffic (though none is visible to me at the moment), and try to be insanely cautious about where I cross a street.   Even at crosswalks and intersections, I like to see the car proving it is stopping before I put myself in its path.
And here's why.  That driver likely has far less concern about what happens if he hits me than I have.  Even if he listens to Andy Barrie and his 'expert' ( a guy who makes a living consulting on this gorp, so has an interest in weird vioews).  This seems elementary.  Why is it so hard to grasp?

(A disclosure or two.  One of these encounters resultd in a hit-and-run arrest.  However the accident happened, I certainly do not condone  leaving the scene of a crime, even though I once unwittingly did.  And the media are struggling with the facts that many of the vehicles in question are public transit vehicles, and we know they are more saintly than private vehicles.)


At 4:54 PM, Blogger EclectEcon said...

Are you suggesting (or implying) we should use a little Darwinian survivalism to cleanse the gene pool?


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