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B.C. irked after RCMP video partially blames pedestrians for car crashes

People quick to call out apparent false equivalency online
A screenshot taken from a pedestrian safety video by Richmond RCMP shows a woman putting in ear buds before pulling up the hood of her hoodie. In the posting of the video, the detachment said pedestrian safety is “a two-way street,” drawing online ire. (Screenshot/@RichmondRCMP/X)

A video from Richmond RCMP is drawing backlash for suggesting pedestrians hold as much responsibility as drivers in preventing collisions.

The detachment posted the video to social media last Friday with the caption: “Pedestrian safety is a two-way street. What pedestrians and drivers can do to make our roadways safer.”

In it, a woman dressed in black is observed walking down the street on a dark, rainy day. She’s seen putting in a pair of earbuds and pulling a hood up over her head, before activating the flashing lights on a crosswalk and proceeding to enter the street.

At the same time, an approaching driver is shown looking away from the road to check his phone. The video ends with the driver appearing to express regret over having checked his phone, while the pedestrian pulls out one of her earbuds and looks at it as if it is to blame.

People online were quick to denounce the false equivalency the video draws. A “community notes” box added to the video post on X, formerly known as Twitter, points out that while distracted driving is a criminal offence in B.C., there is no such law against using earbuds or wearing hoodies. Community notes boxes are allowed to show on X when they’ve been rated as helpful by a large number of users.

Olympic race walker Evan Dunfee, who lives in Richmond, said in a repost “…it’s fun to know that if I am murdered by a distracted driver while in a crosswalk that the @RichmondRCMP will blame me.”

Dave Shellnutt, a personal injury lawyer who specializes in defending cyclists, jokingly made his own public service announcement, saying “It’s getting dark out earlier, be sure to add a bright coat of paint to your vehicle.”

Addressing the backlash on Tuesday, Premier David Eby said he understands the intent of it was to make sure both pedestrians and drivers are being especially alert as the days become shorter and rainy weather moves in. “But I do think the video probably missed the mark,” he added.

He said he’s aware it can be frustrating for pedestrians and cyclists when they are blamed for being hit by vehicles.

Black Press Media has reached out to Richmond RCMP for comment.

READ ALSO: Proposed changes aim to make it safer and more attractive to walk and bike in B.C.

About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

Hi, I'm a provincial reporter with Black Press Media, where I've worked since 2020.
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