The Hamilton Police Service carried out a "traffic blitz" on Thursday morning. According to the Spectator, police aimed to penalize "drivers failing to stop completely at red lights and stop signs, pedestrians crossing against lights, and cyclists riding through intersections", the stated purpose being to "increase safety and reduce congestion on city streets."
Cracking down on bylaw infractions by pedestrians and cyclists does nothing to promote public safety. Pedestrians do not travel with enough kinetic energy to pose a danger to other users of the road and even cyclists rarely cause serious harm to others in a collision.
In principle, the crackdown might deter a foolhardy pedestrian or cyclist from getting killed by stepping or riding into the path of an automobile, but the "reduce congestion" phrase suggests that the real purpose of this action is simply to drive everyone but motorists off our streets.
Why are the police "cracking down" on pedestrians and cyclists in the name of safety? When was the last time a Hamiltonian was seriously injured by a collision with a pedestrian or cyclist who was disobeying traffic bylaws?
It's no surprise that the Spectator hasn't raised these questions. After all, when a woman crashed her car on Hwy 401 on Wednesday, got out of the car, and was then hit by another car, the headline read, "Pedestrian causes 401 mayhem".
The message from the police seems to be that people should avoid traveling like roadkill in order not to be victimized. Perhaps we need a pedestrian equivalent of SlutWalk to teach the police to stop blaming the victims.
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