Go slow road to recovery
Flashing caution signs are everywhere: Go Slow! Slow Down! Literally, the road to recovering our lives and livelihoods is full of warnings telling us why it is best to go slow right now. Adjusting to a new low-speed reality, we admit, is not so easy for our fast paced world.
We notice an interesting intersection of two different ‘vision zero’ goals. Vision Zero is the global campaign for road safety. The other is a statistical goal which signals it is safe to begin re-starting the world economy. Both require us to Be Alert and know some important safety rules.
Both are like learning how to drive up a steep hill with a stick shift, or knowing how to safely handle a four way stop when the lights aren’t working.
Curb your speed
Venturing out for necessities or fresh air has got many more pedestrians and cyclists taking over deserted roadways to keep a safe distance. Go slow if you begin driving back to work, or visiting re-opened shops for ‘curbside pickup’. We welcome these positive signs the economic recovery is starting. We worry this means a lot more people will be out and about than in the past few months.
Getting the economy and our lives going again is great. But we urge everyone to go slow because this is not a return to ‘normal’. Please curb your speed.
Children are still mostly not in school. Working from home looks likely to be partially permanent, if you can. Keeping our distance is still necessary. Walking and biking will continue as preferred modes of exercise and transportation, especially as the weather warms.
Delivering essential goods, food and packages by trucks, couriers and Canada Post are busier than ever. Those returning to work may commute by private car instead of public transit. Figuring out where to pull in to pick up is not always clearly marked. Parking is not always available, especially where municipalities have closed facilities out of an abundance of caution, or to make room for those new bike lanes.
Go slow in first gear
In Italy, famous racing car maker, Ferrari announced it’s factory is at full capacity after seven weeks of near total shut down.
Ferrari factories in Maranello and Modena gradually returned to full production, in line with the “Back on Track” program. – Ferrari back at full capacity today, press release, May 8, 2020.
Joining Ferrari in once again making vehicles soon will be the North American automakers. Restarting the auto parts supply chain, and other industries is good news for a lot of businesses and employees idling for weeks. We applaud companies including Ford Canada and GM Canada for making face shields and masks for health care workers and first-responders.
Gearing up production requires re-engineering how we safely return work and school. Factories, stores and offices have to give workers and customers more personal space. Shift work helps space things out. Even though many office workers now “Zoom” regularly, it will take time to get to economic engines at full throttle in the real world.
For much of the economy, it is a recovery in first gear. And that is ok, because no one wants to have to shift into neutral again, much less go in reverse.
Go slow transition to a different vision zero
“Transmission ratio” doesn’t have anything to do with a vehicle, but it has to do with speed. Speed of infections passed from person to person.
Reaching a transmission ratio below 1:1 is key.
The lower the number, the faster the number of new infections will fall. Our plan to Rebuild, UK Government
Testing tells public health where cases are occurring, so they can then trace close contacts and stop the spread.
Achieving lower transmission rates gives cautious governments evidence to begin loosening restrictions. That is what is happening in many countries, including Canada. Wondering why different provinces are opening things differently? It is because of different transmission rates happening in PEI, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia than in Ontario or in Montreal.
Ultimately the ‘vision zero’ goal for public health is to have no transmission of novel coronavirus cases in our communities. Scientists are hard at work to make that happen with treatments or vaccine.
We commend the public health and government leaders for helping us learn a lot about how novel viruses spread, how to stop them. Singing a tune along with proper hand washing skills are among other newly acquired personal safety routines. We are learning how protecting yourself also protects those around you.
Be Alert, Stay Safe…Stay Alert?
Finally, we noted the similarity to our longtime “Be Alert” and “Stay Safe” road safety messages sound a lot like the cautious “Stay Alert” slogan used by UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. His UK roadmap to recovery has not gone over too well, as illustrated in this cartoon by Nicola Jennings in The Guardian on May 10, 2020. Confusing signals are part of the problem.
You see? Vision zero and Vision Zero goals are at the same intersection. In all cases, it seems prudent to proceed in first gear, as if the traffic lights are not functioning, you are unsure of the clutch, and there are plenty of potholes on a steep uphill road.
Seems to us, plenty of good reasons to go slow.
Our own Be Alert program of reflective child-friendly designs are made to be highly visible in low light conditions. They are easy to attach to clothing, bike helmets or backpacks. We can customize a wide range of safety products with insignia, badges, zippers and other identity and apparel products with your own important message. In the meantime, keep safe, go slow, and contact us for help navigating your communications during your road to economic recovery.