ODOT Gives Out Shiny Armbands; Mostly Ignores Motorist Responsibility

According to Bikeportland.org and The Oregonian, the Oregon Department of Transportation is giving out reflective armbands, as part of a pedestrian safety program.

While I think it should be important to an individual to be careful, I also think it’s the duty of the state to apply the burden of responsibility for motor vehicle safety to the motorist. (They call it pedestrian safety, but I don’t see how pedestrians are dangerous)

Motorists, perhaps because of too much irresponsible marketing, or the irrevocably wrong path America has taken in its love for the motor vehicle, (A path which we are still on as a whole and which will lead to the destruction of humanity as we know it if we don’t change our behavior.) operate their cars with a sense of entitlement. So flagrant is this slant that people often refer to “cyclist entitlement” or “pedestrian entitlement” when advocates of either form of transportation try to claim something resembling a moderately fair share of representation under the law and in city planning.

The law is technically on the side of the pedestrian, and as such, we should be taking steps to make the road safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Handing out armbands is cute and telling people not to wear dark clothes is cute, but it’s ultimately not very productive. It sends the message that the pedestrian is responsible for their own safety, as if we live in some kind of anarchist society- as if cars are some sort of natural phenomenon that are not consciously operated by a human being. “Sorry. We can’t do anything about those pesky irresponsible motorists. Here. Wear this. Hope ya don’t get hit!”

"Haaaay, ya'll! Do I look safe AND SEXAY or whaaat? Let's walk to H&M, OMG!"

Go out for an hour or two and you will see at least a few people driving recklessly. You’ll see many going much faster than they should, even on small residential streets or bike boulevards. Try to cross the street at an unmarked crosswalk (any intersection contains a crosswalk, marked or not, according to Oregon state law.) and 1 out of 4 times, some asshole will illegally blast by in front of you, and perhaps not even realize he’s breaking the law.

It’s up to us, as a society, and the government that represents us, to provide for the safety of everyone and somehow motor vehicles get a pass, probably due to economic pressure. It’s time to put that attitude behind us. We need more traffic calming devices, more education, about pedestrian and cyclist rights on the road, stronger education, more enforcement of laws that are already in place, and more stringent requirements for motor vehicle licensing.

What we don’t need are shiny armbands that increase motorist entitlement and support the caveman mentality that people need to stay out of the way of your big machine- or else.

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