The Chainlink

I was investigating a non-cycling safety matter today, and was reminded to remind the team that it’s always appropriate in a safety culture to examine the full course of events and behaviors where possible, including the choices and actions of the victim.  More to the point in this space, highlighting safe practices and recommending people avoid high-risk cycling practices is cycling advocacy. To seek to understand riders' actions is to be pro cycling, including considering the actions of the victim.   

When there's a fatal collision with a car and an 18-wheeler, it's perfectly appropriate to evaluate the actions of the victim in the car.  It's not useful to offer broad generalizations about truck drivers (are they all liars?) and attempting to understand what the car driver did should not be dismissed as victim blaming.

Imagine if we couldn't evaluate a pilot's choices in a fatal plane crash. That would not be pro-aviation. When the Chicago Park District is investigating decisions of a drowning victim at one of the city's beaches again, people shouldn’t try to dismiss that analysis as victim blaming.  When a boater tragically goes out in 6 foot waves during a small craft advisory, the Coast Guard is willing to consider if the boater is at fault, and not be dismissive of a discovery because someone mentions victim blaming.  

Here are some insights from a victim advocacy advocate law firm, highlighting some behaviors on the part of cyclists to help avoid becoming a victim.    https://www.bishoplegal.com/5-common-bicycle-accidents

We may not agree with the advice about rider choices, and we might not even like law firms, but there's nothing wrong with discussing rider behavior when discussing rider outcomes.  In fact, we should.

When there's yet another Brown Line at grade crossing tragedy, it's appropriate to study the rider, and the conductor's actions.  For the safety of all of us as riders, let us not shy away from what the victim might have done differently, so that we can learn, empower ourselves, and most importantly for us here, not become victims ourselves. 

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