Monday, December 8, 2014

Our Dangerous Streets

The "100 Deathless Days" of 1939 may have been a failure but that didn't stop Vancouver from trying again. In 1955, it was for "80 Deathless Days" in response to the "80 Dark Days of Danger". (This refers to the dangers caused by shorter winter days)

In this campaign, the old people got the blame. After all, they were out at night, in the dark, wearing drab coloured clothing, which made it difficult for motorists to see them.

If the city’s seniors refused to remain in the safety of their homes, the Sun suggested they should at least ask themselves “Is this journey necessary?” before venturing out onto the dark, treacherous streets.

The "80 Deathless Days" campaign was also a failure. In 1960, a reporter for the Vancouver Sun reported Trail, BC hadn't had a single traffic fatality in five years but Vancouver had only managed 54 consecutive days death free in the same time period.

What made the streets of Vancouver so dangerous? After the 1939 campaign, the head of the Traffic Safety Council said the problem was with the pedestrians. Motorists were perfectly cooperative during the campaign, but as for pedestrians, he said, “there was no evidence of any co-operation whatsoever.”

Perhaps it was the way the campaign was presented to the public. The Sun used "traffic morality", a "moral panic" formula. This was the traditional way Vancouverites were motivated to do things as with the campaigns to crack down on drugs.

Victoria, on the other hand, took a different approach. They were demonstrating a "traffic conscience" with a more ambitious campaign of "Accident Free Weeks".  While Vancouver was “half-heartedly pretending not to KILL people,” wrote the Sun, “Victoria is determined not to HURT people.”

These campaigns weren't unique to Vancouver. Providence, Rhode Island had a similar problem and they virtually eliminated traffic deaths by lowering the speed limit to 25 miles an hour. Looking back, these campaigns seem to signify when larger amounts of traffic deaths are accepted as the cost of this mode of transportation.

Car manufacturers have made their vehicles safer for both pedestrian and driver. Unfortunately, advancements like more powerful engines being operated by inexperienced drivers or drivers (and pedestrians) distracted by cell phones and such have increased the hazards of the road.

This information is from the Past Tense Vancouver website.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. People need to be aware of their surroundings not preoccupied with other things when they are walking or driving.