Calgary pedestrians: Cross at your own risk.

January 24, 2015

crosswalk signBackground:

In 2014 there were 411 pedestrians injured and 7 pedestrians killed on Calgary streets. This means at least one person per day is hit by a vehicle and injured in Calgary. The city boasts that pedestrian injuries and fatalities have declined over the last several years. I say so what. Any injury or fatality is one too many.

Calgary is not a safe place for pedestrians to be at large. Many factors contribute to this. Calgary is a major city now with a population of about 1.2 million persons. There are many more pedestrians and drivers in the city. Both pedestrians and drivers are at fault.

How are pedestrians protected?

Assuming pedestrians don’t jaywalk and cross at crosswalks or street corners, the law protects them by specifying vehicles must yield the right-of-way to them.

Crosswalks are marked with signs, markings on the pavement, and sometimes flashing lights overhead or next to the crosswalk. Most if not all intersections with traffic lights also have a walk light indicating when it is safe to cross.

The fine for driving through a marked crosswalk while a pedestrian is crossing is $500. You’d think that’d be adequate deterrent for a driver, but unfortunately many don’t stop, or in many cases even slow down. On roads with multi-lanes this is all too common. Some drivers in some lanes stop, but drivers in other lanes keep driving oblivious to why the drivers in the lanes beside them are stopped.

How can pedestrians protect themselves?

Pedestrians can take proactive steps to mitigate some of the danger,
– Indicate to the drivers you want to cross by extending your arm. This is the accepted signal that you are about to enter the crosswalk or intersection.
– Look on-coming drivers directly in the eye ensuring they see you.
– In multi-lane crosswalks be alert for drivers in other lanes as you cross. Make sure they’re stopping too. Don’t assume. Again look directly at them as you cross.
– At night try not to wear dark clothing that decreases your visibility to drivers. Many crosswalks and intersections are not well-lighted.
– Don’t be a distracted pedestrian, don’t talk or text on your cellphone, shut-off the music in those headphones before you cross.

How can drivers ensure pedestrians are protected?

First of all let me make it completely clear – you don’t ever want to hit a pedestrian. Lifelong guilt and remorse along with expensive lawsuits will result.
– Watch for pedestrian crossings
– Slow down when approaching crossings.
– Be alert when you approach crossings for pedestrians about to cross or in the crossings.
– If cars in adjacent lanes are stopped, guess what they’re stopped for a reason. Watch out for that pedestrian.
– At night watch extra closely for pedestrians who may not be as visible as they should be.
– Don’t drive distracted. Get off that cellphone. For goodness sake don’t text and drive. I like music when I drive too, but turn it down in the city.
– Don’t speed.
– Don’t drink and drive.

How can the City of Calgary protect pedestrians?

Here are some suggestions for improvement.
– Markings on the pavement should be in phosphorescent paint to increase visibility for drivers and pedestrians, especially at night.
– Markings on pavement should be re-applied yearly or as required so as to remain visible
– Heavily used crosswalks should have pavement markings and overhead flashing lights.
– Much more police enforcement needs to be done at crosswalks. The statistics reflect this need.
– More education of drivers and pedestrians should be done in the media or through hand-outs. Many pedestrians don’t know the correct and safe procedures for crossing a street. Children get this information through the school system, but adults have either forgotten or never learned the steps. The City of Calgary and Calgary Police Service have brochure available and the link is below.

Finally as one who is a driver and a pedestrian I urge pedestrians, drivers, and the City of Calgary to be proactive. There is a lot of room for improvement in this area. Let’s make it safer for everyone.

Related Links:
Calgary Herald-Hundreds of pedestrians hit and injured on city streets in 2014
http://calgaryherald.com/news/traffic/hundreds-of-pedestrians-hit-and-injured-on-city-streets-in-2014

Calgary Herald – Distracted Pedestrians
http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/pedestrian-awareness-campaign-targeting-distracted-walkers-discussed

Calgary Herald-Pedestrian Strategy to come before city council in 2015
http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/transportation-planning-in-2015-to-focus-on-pedestrians

City of Calgary-Pedestrian safety campaign
http://www.calgary.ca/Transportation/Roads/Pages/Traffic/Traffic-safety-programs/Pedestrian-safety.aspx

City of Calgary and Calgary Police Service brochure
http://www.calgary.ca/Transportation/Roads/Documents/Traffic/Traffic-safety-programs/pedestrian-safety-brochure.pdf

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Hillcrest Mine Disaster: 100 Years

June 21, 2014
The site of mass grave in Hillcrest Cemetery. Coffins were laid side by side in the grave. Photo Steve B. Davis, 2012

The site of mass grave in Hillcrest Cemetery. Coffins were laid side by side in the grave. Photo Steve B. Davis, 2012

One hundred years ago on June 19, 1914 Canada’s worst mine disaster changed the Village of Hillcrest, Alberta forever. At about 9 a.m. a massive explosion thundered through the mine. Of the 235 men working the morning shift 189 were killed. In a few seconds wives became widows and children lost fathers. The Pass was rocked to its core.

The Crowsnest Pass in Southern Alberta was and is still coal mining country. In 1914 coal was king. Virtually everything ran on coal, trains, heating for houses and industry. Demand was high and the Pass had many mines employing thousands.

I visited the area recently and took in the history. I stood beside the massive grave site in Hillcrest Cemetery. It shocked me how many men were buried there. The entire Pass area reeks of history. Visit soon to take in this fascinating history and beautiful scenery.

Memorial in the cemetery erected to honour the miners. Photo Steve B. Davis, 2012

Memorial in the cemetery erected to honour the miners. Photo Steve B. Davis, 2012

Here are some links I recommend to learn more about this tragedy and the history of the times. I especially suggest the Crowsnest Pass Museum in Coleman. They have exhibits on coal mining and the disaster in Hillcrest. They are also stewarding the centennial remembrances.

Crowsnest Pass Museum, Coleman, Alberta
Centenary of Hillcrest Mine Disaster
Hillcrest Mine Disaster
Discover Crowsnest Pass Heritage

 


Forgotten Tragedy: Sinking of the Empress of Ireland

May 28, 2014
Empress of Ireland. Photo: Library & Archives of Canada, Public Domain

Empress of Ireland. Photo: Library & Archives of Canada, Public Domain

May 29, 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Empress of Ireland in Canadian waters.

RMS Empress of Ireland was a Canadian Pacific Steamship liner plying a regular route between Liverpool, England and Quebec City, Quebec.

In the early hours of May 29, 1914 she was outbound from Quebec near Rimouski on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. The pilot had just disembarked and the ship resumed her journey to Liverpool. The lights of a steam ship had been sighted nearby. Both ships became hidden in a heavy fog bank. Fog whistles on both ships began blowing regularly. Suddenly the SS Storstad, a Norwegian steamer, crashed into the side of the Empress causing severe damage below the waterline.

At the time of the collision the Empress carried 1,477 passengers and crew. Most of the passengers were asleep at the time of the accident. Within 14 minutes the ship sank. Only 465 persons survived. The death toll was 1,012 (840 passengers and 172 crew). Tragically 134 of those who perished were children.

Removing bodies of children from rescue/recovery ship at Quebec. Photo: Library of Congress, Public Domain

Removing bodies of children from rescue/recovery ship at Quebec. Photo: Library of Congress, Public Domain

The wreck lies at the relatively shallow depth of 130 feet (40 metres) and is accessible to skilled divers. Over the years many artifacts have been salvaged. Shortly after the accident salvage crews recovered 318 bags of mail and 212 bars of silver.

In 1999 the Canadian government designated the wreck a National Historic Site and it is now protected from further salvage.

On May 29, 2014 Canada Post  issued stamps to commemorate the sinking and loss of life. Numerous memorial services are planned to remember those who died in the sinking.

The Empress played a significant part in Canadian history. It made 95 trans-Atlantic crossing and carried over 120,000 immigrants to Canada. Many of these people settled in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba and contributed to the development of the West.

The sinking is still considered the worst maritime disaster in Canadian history.

References for more information:

Maritime Museum of Quebec

Library & Archives of Canada

The Empress of Ireland (Facebook)

Merseyside Maritime Museum (Liverpool, UK)

 

 


Extreme speed + extreme stupidity

July 16, 2013
Image

No problem with speeding in these days.

Speeding at extreme speeds, more than 30 km/h over the limit, has become a serious problem in the Province of Alberta. These individuals not only put their own lives at risk, but those of others. A couple of examples will serve to illustrate this stupidity.

In the first example police stopped a black Mercedes SUV (sport utility vehicle) for speeding. Nothing unusual about that you say. Well in this case they ticketed the individual for driving more than 50 km/h (30 mph) over the posted speed limit. They clocked the SUV at 152 km/h (94 mph) in a 100 km/h (60 mph) zone.

The road in question is paved, but runs through a farming area with lots of intersections. At the time of the infraction police cited poor weather conditions, heavy fog and light rain with snow on the road.

Taking all this into account it seems to me this driver was being extremely foolish. Being foolish with their own life would be bad enough, but in this case even more so. Riding in the vehicle at the time was a father, his wife, with three children of theirs, and another child. The children were between the ages of four and 11. The driver was the father.

Next we have a man ticketed for driving his car at 180 km/h (112 mph) in a 100 km/h (60 mph) zone. Again it was on a paved secondary highway, but with lots of intersections and hills. In this case no one else was in the vehicle except the male driver. His excuse? He had just washed his car and was drying it off. Needless to say police weren’t sympathic. For this he received a $800 fine and a 45-day driving suspension.

What will it take to pound some sense into the brains of these drivers? Right now the penalty for driving more than 50 km/h (30 mph) over the posted limit is a heavy fine, driving suspension and demerit points. The ticketed drivers also must appear in court before a judge. They are not allowed to plead and mail the fine in as with an ordinary speeding ticket. Hopefully, it won’t take a horrific accident with multiple innocent lives loss before action is taken.


Avalanche

March 15, 2010
Avalanche results. Photo Jeff Bassett/CP/Pool

This past weekend in Revelstoke, British Columbia the “Stupids” were at it again.

A mob of snowmobilers were out on a snowpacked mountain in the Rockies “extreme high marking” . This involves running a high-powered machine up a steep hill turning on the top, or as high as they make it. Then they rocket down the hill to the bottom. This is a prime way to set off an avalance.

In this case a 30 foot wall of snow and ice came barrelling down the hill sweeping away 150 machines and riders.

The final toll of two killed and over 30 injured, some critically, in the end appears fortunate. Fortunate that many more weren’t killed as a result of this foolishness.

The two men killed were in their thirties and left behind wives and young children. All this for an adrenaline rush. These men were intelligent, hard-working individuals. Why would they risk it all for a short-lived thrill. Now their families have to cope without them. Wives have no husbands and children have no father. I rest my case.


Glenn Miller – Another Mysterious Disappearance

February 10, 2010

On December 15, 1944 Glenn Miller took off in a light plane from England to entertain troops in France. The weather at the time was atrocious and he was told to wait, but he said the troops needed him. He disappeared somewhere over the English Channel. No trace of him or his plane have ever been found. He was only 40 years old.

Glenn Miller was arguably the greatest Big Band leader of the era. His music was the anthem of the 1940’s. Girls swooned and men cheered his band’s sound. It was like rock and roll today.

During the Second World War he and his band volunteered to travel to the war zone and entertain the troops. They also traveled all over the United States building morale and selling War Bonds.

His story was told in the 1953 movie, “The Glenn Miller Story”, starring James Stewart.

On this day in 1942 he was awarded the first ever Gold Record for selling 1.2 million copies of “Chattanooga Choo Choo”. Other great songs include, “In the Mood”, “Moonlight Serenade”, and “Pennsylvania 6-5000”.

The United States Postal Service issued a stamp in 1996 honoring him. It is shown below.


Passchendaele, Nov.7, 1917 – WW I

November 6, 2009
624px-Chateau_Wood_Ypres_1917

Passchendaele terrain

Today, November 7, is the 82nd anniversary of the end of the Battle of Passchendaele.

The Canadian Corps under British command at this time won the battle for the Allies on this date in 1917. The cost of this battle which lasted from June 1917 until November 1917 was high. American forces did not take part in this battle.

The Allied forces captured a mere 5 miles of new territory at a cost of 140,000 combat deaths.  Passchendaele consisted of a series of back and forth skirmishes over reclaimed marshland. It was fought in thick mud.

Hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides were killed or crippled. Private Harry Patch of Great Britain, the last surviving veteran of the battle, died July 25, 2009. He was 109 years old.

TyneCotCemeteryPasschendaele

Passchendaele dead

Actor/Director/Producer Paul Gross of Canada made a movie “Passchendaele” set around the battle. I would highly recommend it to those interested in seeing what war is really like. The movie is not a documentary, rather a love story set during the time. The battle scenes are historically accurate.


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