Podcast questions timing of bystander-awareness campaign for transit

Podcast questions timing of bystander-awareness campaign for transit

· The Pulse
By and

The City of Edmonton launched its One Strong Voice bystander awareness campaign for transit on April 5, but "it didn't really hit the mark," says Episode 215 of Speaking Municipally.

Co-hosts Mack Male and Troy Pavlek compared the campaign's focus on educating individuals to similar efforts in the past, such as the Vision Zero campaign to encourage pedestrians to wear reflective clothing, which was widely panned. They also questioned the timing of the launch.

One Strong Voice "is aimed at reducing gender-based violence and harassment in transit and other public spaces." It proposes six intervention actions that transit riders can take: Be Direct, De-escalate, Distract, Delay, Document, and Delegate. The city says it is "part of a broader, multi-layered effort" to improve transit safety.

At a time when the responsibility for safer transit is ever-present in the news, Pavlek pointed to Coun. Aaron Paquette's recent Reddit AMA comments calling the timing of the rollout "epically terrible."

Coun. Andrew Knack, who also hosted an AMA on Reddit, agreed that the timing of the campaign "was terrible" but said he supports the message of the campaign.

Coun. Tim Cartmell told CTV News that he thinks the campaign might confuse people.

"If you see somebody being accosted, I don't think you're saying anything," he said. "I think you're calling the cops. That's what you're doing. At least that's what you should be doing."

The city says the campaign is evidence-based and was informed by research conducted in 2022.

"We're not expecting or requiring that bystanders have a role, we're just providing the information if someone wants to," Sarah Feldman, a business director for Edmonton Transit, told Postmedia.

With or without the bystander awareness campaign, the root causes behind the perceived lack of safety on transit must be addressed, Pavlek said on the podcast. "Those aren't horrible tips, but none of the items in there is going to get housing for anyone," Pavlek said. "This is, like we said before, absolutely not a solution."

Hear more about this, as well as the provincial commitment to put 100 more police officers in Calgary and Edmonton, progress on LRT expansion, changes to off-peak transit, and the return of scooters on the April 7 episode of Taproot's civic affairs podcast.

Photo: The city has launched its One Strong Voice bystander awareness campaign. (City of Edmonton/YouTube)