I've been so gratified at the response to this blog. Thank you for continuing to read, subscribe, and share! When a reader wrote to say she was inspired to add her voice to mine, she brought to my attention that I had not made specific suggestions about how, when, and where to do that.
I've delayed in spelling out anything specific because I, myself, am still exploring ways in which to use my voice. That makes this an ongoing dialogue, a work in progress. I'm deeply committed to finding effective ways to speak up about respect and justice for VRUs.
I mustn't overlook the most basic way in which we interact with those around us. All one needs in order to share an opinion is a listener. We talk with friends and family, connect with co-workers, and chat with people we are newly acquainted with.
Interacting with others is a natural part of life. Although the current pandemic limits face to face conversations, we've all become creative about how we spend time with others. In whatever manner we connect with those around us, each of them represents a relationship. Within relationships we are able to find non-threatening opportunities to share things that matter to us. A conversations is a natural, unscripted exchange. Conversation invites discussion about our experiences and opinions. Good communication always includes give and take.
When talking with someone, I can be alert for opportunities to share our story and my concerns. I can speak authentically about this topic because it is very important to me. And in doing so, I hope to get others thinking. When presented with clear information, without angry overtones, listeners are free to arrive at their own conclusions.
Honestly, those with whom we are talking would never intentionally support a cultural phenomenon that is so blatantly prejudicial as is the prevailing position toward vulnerable road users. Most are alarmed when the evidence points to a system which upholds a very specific hierarchy - where certain members of society are not even held accountable for injuring and killing others.
However, a great many persons have never actually considered the core issue. On the surface, it's relatively easy to identify with the main talking points of any party. The circumstances surrounding my husband's crash are upsetting, and seem terribly unfair when I describe them. Drivers who defend the primary purpose of roadways as being for cars, trucks, and SUVs find an understanding audience as well. Both “sides” can support their opinions by pointing out careless and/or negligent behavior on the part of those they disagree with.
Many that we speak to will be hearing something they've never even considered before. The details themselves are extremely convincing when presented in a fair and balanced manner. When expressed in sensitive language, with the intention of persuading others to be part of righting a wrong, the current situation for VRUs is reduced to its most basic terms. This is the situation...
These are contributing factors... Individuals can and should take part in bringing about change...
Listening for the right moment in a conversation allows us to speak clearly and calmly. Or to choose not to speak up at all. Road usage can be an extremely polarizing topic. Concern for vulnerable road users is not a one dimensional subject. Allegations of “wrong” and “right” too often steer the discussion into highly charged emotional territory. It's difficult, if not impossible, to have a rational conversation in the face of confrontation. Driven by high passion on both sides, we become arguers instead of advocates.
Traffic endangerment of vulnerable road users continues to escalate. It has become an epidemic in recent years! However, many of us are convinced that the trend can be reversed by changing the mindset of those who share the roadway. Infrastructure and legislation play a vital part in bringing about change, and I applaud the efforts of all who are working hard for improvement in those areas.
For myself, relating to people and engaging them in authentic conversations seems the best way for me to influence others.
The topic under consideration is actually far less complicated than impassioned proponents would have it be. It's a simple as recognizing that IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY! Why would anyone condone keeping things the way they are? Who can sit back and watch increasing injuries and/or deaths of fellow human beings when measures to protect them are possible?
Please speak up!