Wednesday 13 July 2016

Another Victim Blaming Safety Campaign in Cambridge

Yet another terrible safety campaign from Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

From the first line in the first press release, we can tell exactly where this is going:

THE CAMBRIDGESHIRE and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership are urging road users to look out for each other after figures reveal that at least one cyclist is injured on the counties roads every day.
Yes, thats right. Cyclists are getting hurt or killed on our roads, so the cops are asking everyone to look out for each other. Equal weighting - completely ignoring the disparity in risk brought by each party to the other. We oughtn't have to re-hash the stats yet again, but we know that 70% or more of adult injuries are due to drivers - and less than 15% are attributed as solely the cyclists fault. Mutual respect is not the answer to our road safety concerns.

It gets worse though: 

Officers from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Roads Policing Unit (RPU) hope the latest Think! Cyclist campaign will encourage drivers and cyclists to look out for each other through highlighting the common ground between wheeled road users, and giving advice and tips on staying safe, visible and alert on the road.

Hang on, you're going to hilight common ground by giving us advice on visibility? But the vast bulk of cyclist injuries happen in broad daylight, and police campaigns to improve cyclist visibility in Cambridge have demonstrably delivered no reduction in cyclist injuries. Look, guys, we don't have to pull ideas for what influences cyclist safety out of our arses, we've got heaps of data on this subject. Its even been compiled for you so you don't have to go fishing for it. Telling cyclists to look out for motorists is, frankly, an insulting position to take on this topic. Its not our inattention causing injury. 

Earlier this week multiple motorists drove straight at me in front of Magdalene College, where there's a narrow section of road with priority for inbound traffic (the way I was going). They did this right in front of two Cambridgeshire Constabulary PCSO's, and on camera (my helmet cam was on). I asked said PCSO's if they'd ticket the drivers, they replied that they couldn't radomly ticket motorists - as if breaking the rules of the road is just a natural state of affairs and our Police service just can't be getting involved in nonsense like that or something. I tweeted this to our police service and they didn't even reply. And that was that - if you're in a car you can break the rules of the road right in front of the Police and nothing will happen. You can pretty much guarantee it. 

Bluntly @CambsCops you need to quit telling me to '#sharetheroad' when you do nothing to enforce the rules that would facilitate that working out. You seem to think #sharetheroad means some happy road Nirvana whereas in reality every time you use this phrase problem motorists read 'cyclists should get out of the way', whereas to us it just means 'stop driving at us'.

Your approach disproportionately targets cyclists and in so doing actively ignores the risk factors causing harm. This is disgraceful and disgusting victim blame. Stop it. I know that you approached cycle campaigners in Cambridge for input on this and were refused - can you really not understand that this victim blaming mentality is massively damaging to your reputation among cyclists? That your lack of action on illegal and dangerous driving coupled with a total capitulation to speeding, anti-social parking motorists means you've got a huge good-will deficit among cyclists, and that this campaign further stigmatises you in the eyes of ordinary folk who just want to ride a bike without their lives being endangered by the motorists you are clearly supporters of?

Addendum: We really oughtn't be surprised by this lamentable campaign on cyclist safety from a police service that thinks its ok to tweet real time traffic info to people driving, i.e. who through their actions condone mobile phone use at the wheel by giving information specifically to law breakers. 

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