Replace Harold Scruby and his "Pedestrian Council"
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Harold Scruby is the self-appointed chairman and CEO of the so-called Pedestrian Council of Australia, and his unelected and unrepresentative organisation continues to receive funding from many government and non-government sources.
The PCA present poorly researched and autocentric solutions that blame and stigmatise pedestrians unfairly for the rising death toll of those on foot, whilst refusing to engage with any reputable vulnerable road user groups.
Harold blames pedestrians for being distracted on their phones, and Harold blames pedestrians for being drunk, and Harold blames pedestrians for crossing illegally. But the statistics tell a different story, and demonstrate that Harold is manifestly unsuited to representing any vulnerable road user group.
The elderly are far more at risk on the roads with 40% of all pedestrian fatalities over the age of 60 years, whilst comprising only about 15 per cent of the population. As those over the age of 60 (and those under 6) also represent the largest increase in deaths and injuries, we should ask ourselves:
"why is he obsessed with pedestrian distraction, drunkenness and jay-walking when the people who are dying rarely exhibit any of those behaviours?".
Harold accepts police and coroner reports without question, yet there have been thousands of studies showing that "survivor's bias" as well as the so-called "windshield bias" distort the statistics considerably. If the pedestrian dies then only the driver lives to make a statement to police.
Police or coroners in Australia rarely (if ever) return to the scene of a pedestrian's death to record average vehicle speeds at the same time of day, nor do they compare previous police accident reports to detect biases. The outcome of the coroner's report is overwhelmingly the police report, and the police report is largely the driver's account. If the driver says he wasn't speeding then it is accepted without question unless evidence exists to the contrary.
There are many ways to improve pedestrian outcomes and safety, but Harold Scruby and his "Pedestrian Council" largely focus on only two: punitive measures to change pedestrian behaviour, and educating pedestrians to change their behaviour.
Even if we accepted the (demonstrably false) premise that pedestrians are mostly at fault, these administrative controls are right at the bottom (and the least effective) of the accepted hierarchy of risk controls. The hazard is caused by motor vehicles, so the most effective controls would be substitution (with public / active transport), and well-established engineering controls like:
- separated and dedicated infrastructure,
- removal of double lanes or slip lanes at roundabouts,
- traffic signalling that prioritises pedestrians and holds turning traffic on red (not just an arrow) during the entire crossing phase, and
- chicanes, road diets, traffic calming, pedestrian refuges and raised zebras.
We can't stop pedestrians or drivers from making mistakes, but, with proper controls and road design, we can ensure that a small mistake does not result in a catastrophic consequence.
Harold Scruby and his Pedestrian Council should ideally be deregistered and deprived of funding. Certainly Scruby himself must be removed. The PCA must either become an evidence-based group that truly represents the rights of pedestrians, or else the organisation itself must be excluded from any political discussion or commentary on road safety.
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