As usual the mainstream media (I’m so temped to say “lamestream media”, you’ll see why in a second) has shown its negligence when it reports on pedestrian and bicyclist related stories. TV channels are particularly horrible, but this story takes the cake. Oddly the Times is nowhere to be seen.
Enters Linda Brill from King 5 news “Business owner wanted snow plows, got umbrellas“. That business owner, Phil Bevis, seen here gushing about Sarah Palin, says that the umbrellas are a waste of money and would rather see the city spend that on plowing the road so people can get to his store, never mind that it’s located at the bottom of Madison St, one of the steepest streets downtown. Knute Berger over at Crosscut then jumped on the bandwagon, adding some basic information that Linda conveniently glosses over, but still totally misses the point. Erica at Publicola has a great takedown after the jump:
First, the $47,000 SDOT is spending is largely for an ad campaign, not “an umbrella campaign”—indeed, less than 10 percent of the money, or about $5,000, will pay to buy umbrellas. The rest, according to SDOT spokesman Rick Sheridan, will pay for pedestrian-safety campaign events; ads on buses, posters, stickers, and displays for merchants; and a survey to see how well the program is working.
But how much snow response would that $47,000 actually buy the city? According to SDOT’s street maintenance division, about eight hours—a year. It’s pretty hard to imagine the drivers who throw an epic tantrum every time it snows being satisfied with such a minuscule addition to the city’s snow-plowing capabilities.
As Erica points out SDOT’s See You In The Crosswalk campaign isn’t about umbrellas, it’s about saving lives. During the dark winter months the number of pedestrian collisions roughly doubles, from ~30 per month in the summer to over 60 per month. As you can see in the video above the umbrellas are one part of a PR campaign designed to be amplified by social media and traditional media like King 5. Come up with a unique and funny campaign that grabs attention and the media will amplify your message much more than $50,000 dollars could ever do.
But King 5 doesn’t seam to care about pedestrian safety, they just want a zinger of a story. Despite breaking “Umbrellagate” last week King 5 didn’t send anyone to cover the umbrella themed flash mob, which was announced in SDOT’s press release two days ago.