Road safety: a campaign disturbs pedestrians and cyclists

S&eacute ;road safety: a campaign disturbs pedestrians and cyclists

The new road safety awareness campaign of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) which begins today and will end on May 4 disturbs the organizations representing the most vulnerable users. The latter denounce a campaign that targets “exclusively” cyclists and pedestrians without a word for motorists.

The “Concerted National Operation Sharing the Road”, under the theme “On the road, we behave well”, issues eight pieces of advice addressed to pedestrians and four addressed to cyclists, without a direct message intended for motorists.

“In 2021, just over 2,000 pedestrians were victims of collisions on the road network, can we read in the press release from the SQ. It is essential that these users, who are vulnerable, also show caution by adopting simple behaviors.”

For Vélo Québec program director Magali Bebronne, this campaign is unbalanced and does not send not the right message to the most dangerous users of the road, motorists.

“Talking about sharing the road should involve everyone, if we don't talk to motorists at the same time as we talk to cyclists, it's going to be difficult to talk about sharing,” she said. If we only talk to vulnerable road users, we send a completely disempowering message to drivers, when they are the ones who have a large part of the solution in their hands.”

The campaign mentions the principle of prudence by which each road user must act “with caution and respect when traveling on a public road”, and this, “especially with regard to those who are more vulnerable than him”.  For Magali Bebronne, the campaign should have insisted more on the responsibility of motorists in the application of the precautionary principle.

It recalls that in 68% of collisions involving a distraction problem between a car and a pedestrian, it’s the driver's responsibility that is at stake.

“It really places a disproportionate responsibility on vulnerable users compared to what they can really do, adds Magali Bebronne. We really like to pretend that the problem is the pedestrian who is the nose in his cell phone, but the problem is that we have pedestrians who are no match for vehicles that are too fast and increasingly heavy.”

Ms. Bebronne even considers certain advice addressed to pedestrians to be “insulting”, for example by suggesting that they avoid distractions when they walk in addition to when they cross the road.

“It would have already was problematic to say that everyone has the same responsibility, but in this campaign we went even further by sending a message that the only ones who have a responsibility are vulnerable users, it’s even worse than what’ we thought it was possible”, adds Magali Bebronne.

Vélo Québec would have been consulted “a little late” in the process of developing the campaign by the SQ. Faced with an “unbalanced” campaign, the organization informed the SQ of its wish not to be associated with it. However, he says he is ready to collaborate with the SQ for the next campaign in order to send a fairer message to all road users.

A campaign to see “positively”

The Lieutenant Coordinator of the SQ's Broadcasting and Media Relations Department, Anne Mathieu, invites the population to take this campaign in a positive way, because the latter wants above all to remind the various users of their shared responsibility.

“Like drivers, the most vulnerable users can engage in risky behavior,” explains Lieutenant Mathieu. Everyone must by their behavior ensure their safety and that of others.

She points out that other awareness campaigns take place during the year and that these also target motorists and other road users.

A total of eight concerted national operations are developed each year by the SQ and the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) in collaboration with other partners. Their themes would depend on the time of year in which they take place. However, the SQ says it is always open to discussions with the various partners such as Vélo Québec and Piétons Québec.

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