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

Calgary Herald – Distracted Pedestrians

Calgary Herald-Pedestrian Strategy to come before city council in 2015

City of Calgary-Pedestrian safety campaign

City of Calgary and Calgary Police Service brochure

Click to access pedestrian-safety-brochure.pdf

Extreme speed + extreme stupidity

July 16, 2013

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.

Look Out For That Car!

February 6, 2008

walksignal.gifI read recently the very first “DON’T WALK” sign for pedestrians was installed February 5, 1952 in New York City. This was done because of the dramatic increase in pedestrian fatalities on the busy streets of the city. Today these are in widespread use throughout the world. The greatest chance for a pedestrian to get injured or killed is in a town or city. I can certainly attest to that as I live in one.

In Canada statistics compiled by Transport Canada for the 10-year period between 1992 and 2001 show some interesting things about accidents between pedestrians and motor vehicles. (These are the most recent statistics available.)

  • Pedestrian fatalities averaged 416 per year and decreased 24.1 percent over the 10-year period.
  • Pedestrian injuries averaged 14,252 per year and decreased 10.2 percent from 1992 to 2001.
  • Overall males represented 61 percent of pedestrian fatalities while females accounted for 39 percent of fatalities.
  • The 65+ age group accounted for 27 percent and 39 percent of male and female pedestrian fatalities, respectively. Over the period, male fatalities over 64 years old decreased 12.7 percent and over 64 year old female fatalities decreased 30.4 percent.
  • Pedestrian fatalities decreased 24.1 percent compared to a decrease of 20.7 percent for all road users including pedestrians.
  • Pedestrian fatalities were down 20 percent among males and down 30 percent among females. 
  • Pedestrian fatalities in urban areas represented 69.5 percent of all pedestrian fatalities over the 10 years. 
  • For pedestrians over 64 years of age, 85 percent of the fatalities occurred in an urban area.
  • Pedestrian injuries dropped 10 percent – decreases of 13 percent in male injuries and 7 percent in female injuries, while all road user injuries decreased 11.5 percent. 
  • An average of 95 percent of pedestrian injuries occurred in urban areas.
  • From 1992 to 2001, a total of 4,162 pedestrians died from injuries suffered in collisions with motor vehicles and 142,515 were injured.
  • The report finds that the 65+ age group accounts for the greatest number of fatalities. This is a cause for concern because that age group is rapidly increasing every year. A key finding of the report related to this group:
  • Most pedestrian fatalities in the 65+ age group occurred in urban areas (85 percent) and most occurred at intersections. The report doesn’t give a reason for more accidents within this age demographic.

Here are some pedestrians that I have noticed and wonder why more of them aren’t run over:

– iPOD listeners
– cell phone talkers
– skateboarders
– men eyeing pretty women oblivious to everything else
– women who like to put on make-up on the run
– avid readers who insist on turning pages on the run.

pedestrian-signal2-01.jpgSadly these pedestrian encounters with motor vehicles are preventable. So when walking in the city, keep your eyes open and your head up. Stop looking at that pretty girl, and for heavens sake pay attention to other things when you’re chattering away on that cell.

Statistics Source:
Transport Canada, Fact Sheet TP 2436E, RS-2004-01E, December 2004, Pedestrian Fatalities and Injuries, 1992-2001

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