A more sensible approach, of course, would be to help everyone understand what the law is and (if you have to scold anyone) stick to scolding people who actually break it. That’s why this new campaign from the Oregon Department of Transportation is such great news.
ODOT regional active transportation liaison Jessica Horning said the campaign followed “a bit of a non-traditional approach to developing safety campaign materials”: it was developed by ODOT itself in collaboration with its Portland-region Ped/Bike Safety Working Group, a team of local and national institutions and government staff.
“The group’s goal was to develop new educational materials to increase awareness of pedestrian and bicycle safety issues using a ‘positive community norms’ approach (e.g. improving behavior by building community identity/culture, no fear tactics),” Horning said. “This initial campaign message has been very well-received so far and you should start seeing it popping up across the region over the coming months. We handed out 3,000 water bottles with this message/graphic printed on them at Bridge Pedal and our partners are getting rolling on additional materials.”
There’s also a web URL, OregonianCrossing.org, which leads to the agency’s pedestrian safety website.
Some of the archived materials on that page reflect the different approach to pedestrian safety that ODOT’s safety advocates could have pursued with this campaign, but didn’t. For example, four of the five “social media” images there urge people to take extra precautions while walking even when the law is on their side, and only one of the five urges people not to break the law while driving.
Since we can probably all agree that Oregon’s unmarked crosswalk law is one of the most little-known and rarely followed laws on the books, let’s celebrate the state’s choice to stick up for its laws and its residents by using this new campaign to tell it like it is.