What Grinds My Gears: The Pedestrian Council Photo:
Mike Stevens | Aug, 11 2008 | 16 Comments

Of late, one of my least favourite people is a certain Harold Scruby. He's the 'chief executive' of the Pedestrian Council - a private organisation started by Scruby.

Scruby, in case you are unaware, is the crank who petitions the government with mostly crackpot schemes for "improving pedestrian safety".

I've got nothing against people petitioning Government, even crack-pots, Mr Scruby can petition till he's blue in the face.

My distaste for Scruby's hot air isn't just because it's so rabidly anti-driver (and fails to acknowledge any responsibility on the part of pedestrians); no, my biggest issue with the guy is that I'm anti-stupid. A lot of the stuff that comes from his "Council" is the kind of thing you'd expect out of a university satire newspaper.

The latest steaming nugget to fall out of Scruby is a call to make listening to your MP3 player while driving a criminal offence.

The chief executive of the Pedestrian Council, Harold Scruby, wants to see the devices (MP3s) banned for drivers and for the manufacturers to place warnings on their packaging.

He says the "block-out effect" of headphones compounds the risk posed by listening to music in cars.

"If you take out the audial sense, you remove one of the most important aspects of road safety," Mr Scruby said. "You wouldn't hear an ambulance or police car, let alone someone tooting you."

I'll skip a comment about the effectiveness of warnings on packaging since I've already tangentially covered overwarning people; (perhaps our Mr Scruby can ask the RIAA and AFACT how well that's going for the "don't pirate music" labels affixed to every iPod).


I also won't dispute that someone wearing headphones, especially the noise-canceling ones so popular today, stop you from hearing emergency vehicles. Every time I see some idiot driving along with those telltale white earbuds, I want to knock on the window and start yelling at them to buy an FM adapter or something. It's one of the dumber things you can do while driving.

The stink I'm smelling is that our Mr Scruby only wants it banned for drivers. Now I'm no otologist, but I am sure that those exact same MP3 player "unable-to-hear" issues he craps on about, apply equally to pedestrians as to drivers. You know, shouldn't it also apply to those people who blithely walk in front of buses or in front of motorists, MP3s filling their ears, as they step out without looking.

Where's the petitioning to make it a criminal offence to cross the road while wearing an MP3 player, because using them "removes one of the most important aspects of road-crossing safety", Harold?


How about pedestrians take some responsibility for their own actions? Does not some of the responsibility fall to the pedestrian to look after themselves as much as responsibility also falls to the driver? If you listened to Mr Scruby you would not think so.

It's as if he thinks pedestrians are mentally handicapped, and that all the rest of us have to make allowances because they can't be trusted not to do something stupid. I think that's what Mr Scruby would have us believe.

Maybe I just don't know them as well as their representatives on the Pedestrian Council do. Or maybe I'm too old-fashioned in wanting things to be fair.

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