When a car made a sudden stop in front of him in the bike lane this summer while making his daily commute, Kenyatta James, swerved into trolley tracks.
His tire got caught, and he flew off his bike, injuring his knee.
Ironically, the accident happened shortly after his company, James Grant Design, was commissioned to provide photography for a set of advertisements designed to encourage drivers to navigate safely around pedestrians and cyclists. The advertisements are a part of Philadelphia’s roll out of the Vision Zero program, which aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries by 2030.
As a cyclist, James knows the importance of a driver being aware of cyclists pedestrians and giving them respect in the street. Giving them “respect in the street.”
“We really hope to make an impact through this work,” says James. “Philadelphians should feel safe when cycling around the city.”
Since it was announced in 2017, Philadelphia’s Vision Zero Task Force has been hard at work discovering creative ways to incorporate bike lanes and to educate drivers on how to safely share the road with cyclists.
The Vision Zero advertisements are part of its first educational campaign. Over the past few months, they’ve been plastered on the sides of SEPTA buses and transit shelters.
James worked with the city’s contract strategy firm, the Message Agency, to create the images seen in these ads.
The images, taken from inside the car, depict people crossing the street making eye contact with drivers—a viewpoint constructed to capture a ‘do-you-see-me?’ expression on the cyclist’s or pedestrian’s face.
To get these shots, his team rigged a camera in a car and drove around taking photos of people making direct eye contact with the camera from different angles. The shots were later edited together to create a master image to be used for the project.
“It’s meant to create empathy on both sides of the situation,” he says. “People are people, not just obstacles in your way.”