Summing Up Pedestrian Deaths Much Better Than Better Burque

Better Burque has written a large number of posts this year on the issue of pedestrian safety and deaths. If you’re interested in the subject, but missed these earlier posts, you can save a great deal of time by instead reading this simply stellar “rumination” on the subject by a team of Taproot Edmonton writers led by Karen Unland.

The essay captures all of what BB has rolled around this year and does so both far more eloquently and with tons of terrific quotes from experts and data. We could pull any quote/section with good effect, but here’s an extended excerpt  that echoes much of BB’s evolution in thinking about how to “cover” the subject:

Dr. Darren Markland certainly thinks so. As an emergency room doctor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, he regularly puts people back together again, or at least tries, after they’ve been hit by drivers.

Markland suggests if media spent more time and resources covering stories that humanize pedestrians who have been killed or seriously injured — the same types of stories that help people learn about the victims of homicides — Edmontonians would be more aware about the dangers pedestrians and cyclists face every day.

He says the lack of awareness about pedestrians who lost their lives or who have been critically injured has resulted in little influence to get city leaders to overhaul city infrastructure to make it safer.

“We spend a lot of time de-personalizing the victims of pedestrian deaths so that we can cope with not committing to making changes that have to occur on the roads,” said Markland.

“It’s (easier) to maintain the convenience of being able to drive a vehicle in one of the most poorly designed cities in Canada.”

As the 140-character universe puts it these days: This.

“De-personalizing the victims of pedestrian deaths” is clearly, and painfully, apparent in Edmonton, Albuquerque and just about everywhere else. For contrast from the rampant “de-personalized” norm, read this first-person account by former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson about her experience of being seriously injured walking in Manhattan, including similar experiences by several other NYT staffers.

If all pedestrian incidents were reported with the depth of the Abramson piece, where would we be in Edmonton, Albuquerque, NYC, etc.? Heck, what if we at least delved into such depth with 1/4 of pedestrian fatalities? What would our roads look like? What would the pedestrian fatality rate be?


(Typical graphic on pedestrian fatalities “news” stories, this one from KOAT. You can’t get any more symbolically de-personalized than this.)

After quite a bit of “rumination” myself about this, it’s pretty apparent the next step for BB is to go deeper and speak directly with victims, where possible, and families affected by this issue. Ranting, data and more ranting isn’t cutting it. To this end, I have a few IPRA requests and such percolating toward getting victim names and such, information that is, as you know, very rarely made available by police in news reports. We’ll see where that gets us.

In the meantime, BB will tend to post about other matters. Any more ranting/data/ranting is not only wastefully unnecessary but reverberates the de-personalized mantra. IPRA process and all in mind, any personal stories and information you might want to pass our way is extremely welcomed.


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