When There is Nothing to be Done, Perhaps It’s Time to Bring Out the Clowns

25 Jan

In 1994 in Bogotá was deemed to be the most dangerous city in Latin America with 1,300 traffic fatalities per year and about 80 homicides  per 100,000 residents. The incoming mayor, Mayor Mockus brought in clowns and mime artists to direct the traffic and defuse aggression, he distributed 350,000 “thumbs-up” and “thumbs-down” cards to citizens so they could signal their views to other people who were behaving foolishly or dangerously and then he asked people to pay 10% more tax and 63,000 did. These are only some of the initiatives he tried successfully and in the period traffic deaths halved and homicides fell by 80%. Now if clowns can half traffic deaths then I am interested.

And then there are the clowns in New York, who were, well, clowning around is I guess what you would call it. However, they had the deadly serious aim of drawing attention to the dangers of parking cars in cycle lanes.

a bunch of bike-riding clowns

Video of 2008 ‘Pie of March’ event

Video of the ‘Pies of March’ event in New York 2009

As the World Bank put it on their blog, yes they do have one, ‘When There is Nothing to be Done, Perhaps It’s Time to Bring Out the Clowns‘. Possibly it is time for us to deploy clowns police outside our schools to defuse tension and get people thinking instead of arguing and fighting?

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