The City of Ottawa's public works department has removed several graphic road safety ads from social media after public outcry.
The ads, part of a larger campaign being tested by the department under the city's road safety action plan, depict bloodied jaywalking victims lying on the ground in front of motor vehicles.
"Our city transportation staff, they care deeply about trying to prevent accidents and deaths on the road. And I I know that they're trying to change behaviour," said Somerset ward Coun. Ariel Troster on Sunday.
"But I do think this one ad really missed the mark, in that the target was the victim of violence rather than the perpetrator."
Troster said she's seen many instances of pedestrians and cyclists ending up in danger even when following the rules — for instance, at one flashing light crossing in front of her child's school that "drivers blow through ... all the time."
She said the city's focus should be to create safer streets.
"There are many situations where there should be more signalized intersections, because those are places where people, particularly children and seniors, need to cross the street," she said.
Several other councillors, as well as members of the public, expressed concern about the campaign on social media over the weekend.
In one of a pair of weekend memos to council, public works general manager Alain Gonthier said the intent was to try "a different approach to get the message across" and "not to lay blame on any one party or individual."
"It is a recognition that all users have a shared responsibility if we are to achieve reductions in fatalities and major injuries on our roadways" Gonthier wrote Sunday.
"Given the concerns with the use of the 'jaywalking' terminology, those test ads have been pulled."
Gonthier said his team would reassess on Monday if sufficient data has been collected on the other test ads, which include similar images of injured cyclists, as well as a driver texting while at the wheel.
He said he would also update council Monday on the campaign's next steps.
The ads 'really missed the mark,' said Somerset Coun. Ariel Troster. (Maxim Saavedra-Ducharme/CBC)
Zero crashes long-term goal
The road safety action plan aims for a 20 per cent reduction in the average annual rate of "fatal and major injury collisions" by 2024, Gonthier told council.
Its longer-term goal is ultimately zero crashes that end in fatalities or serious injuries.
According to statistics provided to council in Gonthier's memos, 25 per cent of all fatal and major collisions in the city involve pedestrians.
Data collected between 2017-2021, Gonthier wrote, shows that 29 per cent of those collisions occurred when pedestrians were crossing somewhere other than at an intersection.
Another 23 per cent happened when they had the right-of-way and were hit by a vehicle turning left, while 11 per cent occurred when the pedestrian did not have the right-of-way and the vehicle was travelling straight through an intersection.
Gonthier's memo said the campaign's approach was "evidence-based" and that graphic road safety ads have been used in other jurisdictions around the world.