Thursday, December 15, 2011

Florida DOT Removes Graphic Video From Its Web site

Well, that didn't take long -- the Florida Department of Transportation has removed a graphic and inflammatory video from its so-called pedestrian-bicyclist safety campaign web site created by the Troy Dunn advertisement company less than a month after the DOT issued a press release about the safety campaign.

Months ago, SWFBUD warned the DOT that the Troy Dunn advertisement company's content was inflammatory and distorted because it blamed only pedestrians and bicyclists for getting hit and killed by motorists, but failed to hold motorists accountable for their actions.

SWFBUD believes bicyclists MUST be educated about safely riding their vehicles on roads. But we also believe motorists must be held accountable, too -- something the local DOT safety staffers and the Troy Dunn advertisement company failed to accomplish in its safety campaign.

The web site originally showed a highly graphic video on its home page that showed images collected off the internet of motorists smashing into pedestrians, with the pedestrians going flying. The scenes show pedestrians walking in front of cars and getting smashed, but I guess the Troy Dunn advertisement company couldn't find the videos of the two car drivers racing down Fletcher Avenue in Tampa and killing bicyclist Robert Niedbalec who was pedaling in a bike lane in February or the red-light-running driver who killed bicyclist Diane Vega at Spruce and Himes on Oct. 1, 2010.

The DOT wanted something attention-grabbing in the campaign because, according to the DOT PR spokeswoman, the conventional Share the Road messages are too "vanilla."

Apparently, the graphic video hatched by the Troy Dunn advertisement company was too inappopriate for the DOT.

So, the web site shows another video on its home page showing elephants and tanks on a downtown street, scaring pedestrians and a bicyclist.

SWFBUD also opposes that video because it reinforces the stereotype that roads are only for cars at a time when we are working to show the public that the roads are for everyone -- not just cars but for bicylists and pedestrians, too.

In previous St. Pete Times stories on this DOT bicycle-ped campaign, Florida Bicycle Association Executive Director Tim Bustos expressed his concerns about this DOT campaign. Andy Clarke, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists, also opposes this inflammatory DOT-Dunn campaign that does little to instruct people on how we all as motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians can safely co-exist on local roads.

The local DOT safety staffers in Tampa did not consult with the local Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee or the Florida Bicycle Association about presenting safety content in this campaign.

The local DOT safety staffers believe pedestrians and bicyclists cause their accidents and they're the ones who need to be addressed in a campaign.

Without contacting the Florida Bicycle Association, the DOT-Dunn campaign stated this on its web site: "According to a published guide from the Florida Bicycle Association, bicyclists are at fault in seventy percent of all police-reported crashes because they violated traffic rules."

FBA's Bustos said the DOT-Dunn web site distorted the information.

SWFBUD, like most bicycle organizations, believes it's split about 50-50 between bicyclists and motorists regarding who causes accidents. The local DOT pays for a local agency to run pedestrian and bicyclist safety programs and SWFBUD supports that -- but how come there is no DOT initiative to also educate motorists on how they need to share the road with bicyclists and pedestrians? There are WalkWise and BikeSmart programs but what about a program to make motorists smarter or wiser and to teach motorists how to drive in a new world where roads are for everyone?

1 comment:

transportation4all said...

I think you missed the point here - the website and campaign target everyone - not just cyclists. What you left out is that the graphic images were REAL and included instances where the pedestrian was at fault and the motorists was at fault. The campaign does what it was supposed to do - grab your attention. Look at all the "successful" tobbaco and drunk driving PSAs that are out there - sometimes you need to show "blood and guts" to make people realize that this isn't a game. While the images of a tank are a bit over the top, one cannot deny that they make drivers realize that their car isn't a car - its a two-ton weapon and should be treated like one... This goes for everyone too - every time you get into your car, get on your bike, walk into the street, you must proceed with caution and care. Isn't that the underlying problem? People are careless. While its not a perfect product - the campaign is a step in the right direction for an agency that - until recent years - has stood for increasing auto capacity and has ignored other modes of transportation. As an outsider, it appears as though they are trying to do something innovative and different and instead of saying "this is great - i appreciate your efforts to change. How can we work together in the future?" you instead shout in outrage "thats not what i wanted!! you always screw everything up!" That is a great way to get people fired who are actually on your side and trying to make a difference. It is not the responsibility of the FDOT to "hold motorists accountable for their actions" and that language won't get you anywhere in this world. If every word that comes out of your mouth is a complaint, people are less and less likely to take you seriously. While FDOT still has a long way to go - I think you still get more with honey than with fire. Happy holidays.