Hamilton Police called out for “victim blaming” pedestrians and cyclists in road safety post

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Published January 4, 2024 at 2:45 pm

An innocent-sounding message from Hamilton Police to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to take precautions on their daily commute to “ensure a safe start” to everyone’s day has raised the ire of social media users, who accused HPS of “victim-blaming” by asking non-driving commuters to “wear visible clothing and use designated paths” to stay safe.

The Wednesday morning post from Hamilton Police also asked drivers to “buckle up, obey traffic rules and stay alert” as they embarked on their morning commute but respondents on X (formerly Twitter) took offence to HPS putting the onus of responsibility on the pedestrians and cyclists for road safety.

“It’s not a pedestrian’s responsibility to avoid being hit by wearing bright colours,” posted Tom Woodhall. “It’s the driver’s responsibility to drive slowly and safely. Do you recommend black painted cars go in to get repainted in yellow?”

“Victim blame much?” posted Bicycle Mayor of Toronto. “If you’re a driver and don’t feel the need to prioritize the safety of vulnerable road users, do us all a favour and hand over your keys. Take public transit or walk.”

“Fun fact: Walking is not a dangerous activity. It is drivers who make it so,” chimed in Jake Cobb. “The responsibility for safety lies with the source of the danger: the driver. Hope this helps!”

“You First,” added Photography by Douglas. “Bike squads should be wearing high vis yellow Police uniform windbreakers (spring/summer) at least. Be an example.”

Dafydd61 noted that the kind of clothing cyclists wear is a tired trope, no matter the context. “C’mon guys. Do better. The ‘what were they wearing’ excuse is mighty tired.”

There were a few posts in support of the message, such as this one from Headstone Hunter, who disputed the assertion that it is always drivers at fault in collisions with cyclists and pedestrians.

“Not true I have people walk out onto the road all the time – not on a crosswalk. They expect traffic to stop for them! Dangerous situation for everyone. Driver is not ALWAYS at fault.”

Hamilton Police did not respond to the comments, but the last line in their original post asked all users of the road to “work together to ensure a safe start to your day. Stay safe & take care.”

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