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traffic safety -- risk taking - pondering "language"

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  • Simon Baddeley
    It s interesting - nearly 20 years after deconstruction of texts first caused controversy in Cambridge literary circles - to find with what facility so many
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 6, 2001
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      It's interesting - nearly 20 years after deconstruction of texts first
      caused controversy in Cambridge literary circles - to find with what
      facility so many people involved with the transport debate in its different
      manifestations can use the textual analysis that evolved from that
      revolution to spot hidden agendas, sub-texts, and logic flaws when
      analysing, refuting and undermining the values and arguments of those
      defending the status quo. Robert Davies has taught us especially well but
      there are others who have done fine deconstructions of "car-culture" (sic).

      A problem for small "c" defenders of the status quo is treating language as
      what they say and think. ("Words are wise men's counters; they do but play
      with them. They are the currency of fools" Bacon - a long time before
      "textual deconstruction" became the vogue) The best debaters I find (which
      is why I'm vexed when they venture into UCUK and get abused) are those who
      pick up "our" hidden agendas and subtexts.

      I thought, for example, that an effective point was made by the emailer who
      sought to ally dislike of compulsory helmet wearing with his dislike of
      speed restrictions - putting both positions under a libertarian umbrella. I
      realise that in my dislike of speeding I might be accused of expressing a
      typical old man's views about young people having fun and might well need to
      sort out the purity of my wish to moderate noise, pollution, death and
      injury from an unconscious desire to stop the young enjoying themselves. I
      don't think I do harbour such wishes but I would say that wouldn't I. It's
      just that I get too much fun from cycling and walking to resent the idea of
      anyone having fun as such. It's having fun with cars that drives me potty.
      Ah yes I hear someone say - all the exaggerated moral positioning of a
      reformed speeder. Some truth there, recalling how I used to drive until
      about 10 years ago.

      Has anyone got examples of oppositional analyses of our "real" motives for
      being against speeding drivers or cars generally or our "real" motives" for
      enjoying and promoting cycling, or walking? There used to be innuendo
      attached to girls' who liked riding and grooming ponies - perhaps still is.
      What is it about grown men who don't like to be in a car? Such a person
      ought to be a suitable victim of slanderous imputation, contempt and
      ridicule. What also are the hidden motives of people who walk where they
      could just as well drive? Want to save the earth? I wonder?

      I was talking to a bloke who ran a horse taxi service as sea-front novelty
      recently and not knowing my proclivities he happened to mention in a
      sentence fraught with hidden implication that he had "always been a bit
      doubtful about men who cycle" and he gave me a bit of a knowing wink as he
      spoke.

      Best wishes and apologies for deviation (in the best sense of the word) (:})

      Simon

      Several weeks ago we discussed the recent New York Times article
      > claiming that bicycle helmets 'caused' crashes by encouraging risk taking
      > behaviors. I think most -- I say most -- people have written this off as
      > unfounded, or at least off-base.

      Risk homeostasis/risk compensation was a pednet topic several years
      ago.

      Helmets for bicyclists and airbags for vehicle occupants do not create
      "safety": they create crash protection or crash safety. To call this
      "safety" instead of "crash safety" is misleading and is a bit like
      "putting lipstick on a pig," to use a wonderful phrase I read recently.
      Crash safety is fine, but should be secondary to crash prevention.
    • Simon Baddeley
      Hi Pierre I suppose the significant moment will be when cycling and walking are so normal you don t have to question your own or other s motives. Regards S ...
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 7, 2001
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        Hi Pierre

        I suppose the significant moment will be when cycling and walking are so
        normal you don't have to question your own or other's motives.

        Regards
        S


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Boileau,Pierre [NCR] <Pierre.Boileau@...>
        To: <carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Friday, September 07, 2001 2:33 PM
        Subject: RE: [carfree_cities] traffic safety -- risk taking - pondering
        "language"


        Hi Simon,

        I think our motivations are all quite different and evolve from our own
        experience. I would hazard a guess that the Mothers Against Drunk Driving
        movement evolved from personal tragedies, but has moved into a mainstream
        movement with recognition of the economic costs (not just social costs) of
        this behaviour being mentioned in the press.
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