“CROSS HERE FOR A & E” : Victim blaming of pedestrians?

Consider the front of this leaflet from the Department for Transport and Transport for London:


Below I discuss whether this approach is justified in a society which genuinely wanted a civilised approach to the safety of pedestrians and others.

In no particular order, here are some points I think worthy of consideration:

1.Basic data (i)

“Twice as many people are killed when crossing the road away from a controlled crossing”. Without an idea of relative numbers of people crossing at, near, or far away from crossings, this doesn’t actually tell us what the relative chances of being killed at different locations.

2. Basic data(ii)

“The majority of pedestrian related collisions occur within 50 metres of a crossing, so going a little out of your way could save your life”. Is it really the case that just about everything is alright on a crossing, not too bad some distance away where there is no crossing nearby, and the only problem is those pedestrians who can’t be bothered to walk a few metres further along?

3. “…going a little out of your way…”

Actually, for a lot of disabled and elderly people, an extra walk of up to 100 metres to cross the road is not that convenient. Besides, current thinking among professionals is to provide ease of crossing that coincides with pedestrian desire lines.

4. “Be seen. Be safe”

We have published a few posts on this subject recently, for example showing the lack of evidence for this being effective. https://rdrf.org.uk/2013/11/03/hi-viz-for-cyclists-and-pedestrians-the-evidence-and-context/ If we want to be pedantic about it, wearing “light, bright or colourful clothing” is not going to make any difference at (“especially at”) night because it is not reflective – but that’s not the point. Apart from the lack of evidence – and in my last discussions at an official meeting with a DfT officer there was no evidence given –  this is breeding a culture of guilt among those pedestrians who choose or unable to wear a “light, bright or colourful…coat, scarf or hat” as they get about.

Much more important, what effect does this kind of material have on existing or future motorists: if there is insufficient restriction on motorists who are unable or unwilling to watch out for pedestrians, is this not exacerbating the problem of pedestrians being seen, rather than helping to deal with it.

5. The “One False Move” for our times?

In 1990, Adams, Hillman and Whitelegg published One   False Move… A Study of Children’s Independent Mobility .

The title was taken from a “road safety” poster of the time – no doubt indicative of a car-centred culture with a formal message based on scaring child pedestrians and their parents, and associated with parents restricting their children’s mobility accordingly. Of course, these restrictions on children’s independent mobility are not just because of fear of motor danger, and messages in government publicity are only a small part of this culture. Nevertheless, there is an association between – unacceptable levels of? – motor danger and these messages with what can be suggested is a measure of threat from an official source.

It may well be annoying to see pedestrians who are taking an unnecessary short cut just off a crossing, but apart from all the questions raised above, let’s consider this: we will have to cross roads away from crossings, quite apart from having the right to do so. Is a message “CROSS HERE FOR A & E” not exonerating motorists from their responsibilities and issuing a threat of injury to people engaged in a lawful activity?

The phrase does get used a lot, but is there a case to say this campaign is victim blaming?

(Note: I have scanned some of the leaflet, I can’t find an electronic link but it is dated October 2013 and refers to www.tfl.gov.uk )

3 thoughts on ““CROSS HERE FOR A & E” : Victim blaming of pedestrians?

  1. Simon Still

    Almost the most shocking thing here is that the implication is that a third of pedestrian deaths ARE on crossing where peds are supposed to be completely safe and have priority.

    1. rdrf Post author

      The statistic is in fact – as usual for these sorts of figure – pretty meaning less because it does not give you an idea of how many crossing movements are at official crossing point. It could be that the chances of being hurt at crossings are several times lower – but that doesn’t get away from 1. the issue about people having to cross elsewhere; 2, the fact that drivers should expect them there and 30 the overall victim-blaming tone. On top of that, as you suggest, there is an issue of how people get knocked down even when they are in special places for them to cross.

      Dr R Davis, Chair RDRF

  2. Paul_C

    Classic victim blaming. On a par with the Motor Industry’s campaigns in America to get Pedestrians villified for “jaywalking” and having it made a crime.


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