Dangerism is a term which refers to the practice of maximising the perception of risk and the cultivation of fear and the accommodation of those fears by a "hardening" of safety measures, which then, in turn feed back into a greater yet perception of risk in an increasingly strident feedback howl, until an activity comes to be regarded (however irrationally) as being almost unthinkably dangerous....was what we said. Dangerism is marvellous, for it allows a pro-motoring message to be couched in terms of road safety. Similar approaches to 'safety' in transport choices can be seen all around. From the marvelous "Walkodile" for children to the propagation of cycle helmet and hi-vis clothing campaigns for cyclists, dangerism is always with us these days. On behalf of the drivers of Aberdeen Cars, we approve of all this dangerism, because it actually succeeds in getting across the message that walking and cycling are not safe, all the while absolving the blameless hard-pressed motorist of all blame. These are not "safety" campaigns, they are "danger" campaigns which serve the aim of frightening pestestrians and cyclists back into their cars, where they should be anyway! What we particularly like about all this road "safety" stuff is that it never ever ever suggests that the important drivers of Aberdeen Cars examine their own behaviour. Instead, these dangerist initiatives always focus on the potential victims of traffic "accidents", and put all emphasis on how the victims probably had it coming. After all, what did they think they were doing - deciding to walk or cycle in the first place? Everyone knows that it's common sense that walking and cycling are dangerous.
So now we congratulate our partners at Grampian Police, NHS Scotland, First Bus and Aberdeen City Council on their latest piece of dangerism: Operation Winter Walker, which is aimed at senior citizen pestestrians.
The Operation Winter Walker materials are full of dangerism best practice, emphasising the hazard and fear which the Police, the NHS, First Bus, and the council want old people to associate with walking.
"Don't Learn Road Safety By Accident!" shriek the Operation Winter Walker posters and handouts, subtly re-introducing the word "accident" into the transport lexicon. For some time now, the word "accident" has not been used by the authorities, and the word "collision" has been used instead: "RTC - Road Traffic Collision". We applaud this police-sponsored use of the word "accident", with its connotations of blamelessness for the drivers of Aberdeen Cars - it's a return to common sense attitudes at last, and a sign that the War on the Motorist is finally over.
However, we would be lax in our communitarian Big Society responsibility if we were not to point out that there is, perhaps, a pressing issue behind the necessity for Operation Winter Walker - and that's the fact that poverty is forcing senior citizens out of their cars and on to the pavements. Shame. It must be that, for what other reason could there possibly be for the older generation to choose to walk about the place, particularly in winter? It shames us as a society that our old age pensioners cannot afford to get about in a nice wee car.