I grew up in New York City.
It’s where I first learned to walk, and learned to be a pedestrian.
It’s also where I learned to drive.
I left New York in my early 20s, and since then have lived in other cities where there are lots of cars, lots of pedestrians, and these days - a growing number of senior citizens.
It dismayed me to read the following in a blog post about a section of Brooklyn's way to "combat" senior citizens being killed by drivers.
As of early September, eight of 15 pedestrians killed by drivers in the Brooklyn South command were age 65 or older.
To combat the trend, precincts in the area have distributed fliers and notices to residents giving tips to older pedestrians on how to navigate the streets safely.
The fliers suggest wearing “light or bright colored clothing so drivers will notice you,” waiting for a fresh walk signal to cross and treating driveways with the same caution before crossing as if they were roads.
What this first reminded me of was the negative commentary in the news and elsewhere blaming rape on women. "Women should wear longer clothes," "women should not have too much of their body exposed," "women ought not to be out after dark," "women ought not to walk outside alone, etc." Basically a litany of all the things that women should not do in order to not put themselves at risk of being raped.
Nowhere do we ever ever read anything like “how about we teach the boys to not rape women? or "not see women as sex objects?” Nope -
So now - taking a page from that same type of commentary, we blame the victims themselves for being hit by cars. They didn’t wear the right thing, or maybe they were out after dark. Or they did not wait for a fresh walk sign?
These pedestrians were in the crosswalks, obeying traffic rules… but let’s blame them and tell them how to behave… Can’t blame drivers can we?
I’m still a pretty fast walker - even for my age. And, yes, I cross the street seeing the countdown clock is not fresh - it may be midway through the cycle. I know I can cross that road in that time. So why should I wait for a fresh cycle? Does my time not count? Maybe I have an appointment. Maybe I have a train or bus to catch. Why is the driver’s need to hurry more important than my life?