I believe the children are our future. Not only should we teach them well and let them lead the way, but we also need to show them all the beauty they possess inside. Above all, we should give them a sense of pride.
Sorry, those aren't my words, I'm paraphrasing the popular song by Sexual Chocolate.
Still, that makes them no less true, and when it comes to teaching children not to get killed by the adults who can't be bothered to watch out for them there's no more effective method than hip hop-styled PSAs:
The video of the song will now be used as part of the Cross This Way curriculum — a new educational initiative, jointly offered by the city’s Transportation and Education Departments, that will be taught to students in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades.
It’s an educational arm of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero campaign to eliminate fatalities and injuries by vehicles.
The Cross This Way curriculum, aimed at 300,000 schoolchildren, will be announced today at P.S. 124 in Gowanus, near where a 10-wheel truck fatally ran over two fifth-grade students in 2004.
I don't know about you, but when I hear that two children have been killed by trucks and the city is responding by showing "an extremely catchy hip-hop song" in schools I immediately start cringing. Even the writer of the Times article senses something amiss;
But remember: Although these younger pedestrians are doing their part to avoid accidents, street safety remains primarily the responsibility of the drivers.
Given this, I put off watching the video for as long as possible, but I finally ate my metaphorical veggies and here it is:
After watching this video, I felt conflicted. On one hand, it contains some good advice: watch where you're going, don't stare at your phone all the time, and so forth. On the other hand, at certain points it absolves the drivers of responsibility and shifts the burden of safety entirely on the kids, which strikes me as unfair and somewhat irresponsible. Consider this part, for example:
Sure, she's on the phone and she should be paying more attention, yada yada yada, but what about the driver totally violating her right of way? Phone or no phone there's only so much you can do about these assholes constantly dry-humping the crosswalk with their SUVS, and if everybody stops for them then the terrorists have won.
Then again, it was lighter on the helmet propaganda than I expected, with only one instance of helmet-shaming:
Oh please, you don't need to wear a hemet every time you step onto a board with wheels. He's rolling around Brooklyn, not dropping into a half-pipe. Might as well tell the kids to wear helmets while they're walking.
But the most troubling part is the stop sign scene. Here are the kids, plainly visible to the driver:
And here they are reacting in terror:
Because of course the driver doesn't stop:
Fair enough. They don't stop most of the time. But again, is it fair to the kids to enshrine and legitimize this sort of driver behavior and suggest that it's them and not the drivers who are doing something wrong? Frankly I'm not sure, but according to the video here's what the kids are supposed to be doing. First, they're supposed to stop and look:
Okay. Then, they're supposed to make eye contact:
This is extremely bad advice. One of the first things I learned in motorcycle safety school (which I recommend to all cyclists as a lot of what you learn carries over to bicycling) is that eye contact with a driver does not mean they see you. They may appear to be looking at you, but they're usually just looking through you, and we've all experienced that sense of shock and disbelief when they come right at you even though you think you've got them riveted with your steely gaze.
In short, eye contact don't mean shit.
Yet the video takes this flawed concept even further and then tells them to wave at the driver:
So the driver waves them through and HOLY SHIT NEVER GO JUST BECAUSE A DRIVER WAVES YOU THROUGH!
Because sure, they may be letting you go, but what about the asshole behind them who doesn't feel like waiting and goes around them? Never, ever, ever let a driver be your eyes, because nobody is less aware of their surroundings than a driver.
And this bit of advice was particularly vexing:
How are you supposed to do that exactly? Eye contact doesn't work, and letting them wave you through is dangerous. Frankly, I'd have been more comfortable if they'd suggested this:
But again, I'm conflicted. What's worse: legitimizing bad driver behavior, or pretending it doesn't exist? I don't know, but one thing is for sure: kids are kids, so putting even more responsibility on them when it comes to traffic safety is completely unrealistic and utterly ridiculous.
Meanwhile, in other local news, Citi Bike continues to desecrate New York City, this time by being in close proximity to a cat statue:
But the dramatic spell they cast was shattered last week when a Citi Bike kiosk and solar panel, half as high as the monument, were installed directly in front of the north pedestal.
"Dramatic spell?" Really? I lived in close proximity to that park for something like 20 years and I had to look up where the fucking things were because I never even noticed them. And even if I had noticed them, how does the Citi Bike station interfere with them in any way? Look at the damn picture! They're 18 feet above the fucking street! Bikes or no bikes unless you're an NBA player on stilts you ain't seeing shit.
Still, the sculptor's great-granddaughter is disgusted:
“I’m sure Proctor and White would both be horrified,” Laura Proctor Ames, the sculptor’s great-granddaughter, said after seeing a photograph sent by The New York Times. “We were not aware of it, and I have a pit in my stomach.” Ms. Ames is the director of the A. Phimister Proctor Museum in Hansville, Wash.
Yeah, no shit you weren't aware of it--because you live in fucking Hansville, Washington! So who gives a shit what you think?
And here's someone who turned to Facebook to inform the world that she's "apoplectic:"
Michele H. Bogart, the author of “Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City, 1890-1930,” wrote on her Facebook page, “Someone who approves locations is not using his or her brain cells.”
“I am apoplectic,” she wrote. “It is an absurdity. The ‘Panthers’ are a major N.Y.C. monument by a major late-19th-century American sculptor. They are in the collection of the city, and you can’t just go putting structures next to works like these.”
Ms. Bogart asked, “Who gave approval to place kiosks and stands in a place that totally destroys the views into the park?”
Those who know aren’t saying.
Firstly, in the list of "major NYC monuments," these panthers rank somewhere between Famous Original Ray's Pizza (doesn't matter which one, take your pick) and pretty much any given Muni-Meter. Secondly, you know what really interferes with the enjoyment of these monuments and indeed enjoyment of the entire park? ALL THE GODDAMN CARS SPEEDING AROUND AND THROUGH IT! In fact, I probably never noticed the stupid things because if I had I'd probably have gotten run over while trying to admire them.
Maybe Michele H. Bogart, author of "Public Sculpture and the Civil Ideal in New York City, 1890-1930," should lease herself a Hyundai and drive it to Hansville, Washington.
Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
And try not to hit any kids, either.