Recently in this community we saw a tragic incident which cost the life of a pedestrian. I don't know the facts of that particular case and so I will not opine on it - but I do know we have a safety issue when it comes to pedestrians, because I've seen it myself over the last decade. Sometimes it is the fault of the driver, and sometimes it is the fault of the pedestrian - but in the end of pedestrian vs. car the pedestrian always loses.
Here are some basic pedestrian safety rules - and then let's talk about some Fort McMurray specific issues, shall we?
Basic Pedestrian Safety
(from Government of Alberta)
Safety is anything but pedestrian for AlbertansWalking is part of a healthy lifestyle and is many Albertans’ primary form of transportation, particularly children and youth. In 2006, almost 40 per cent of the drivers in collisions involving a pedestrian failed to yield the right of way to the pedestrian.
As part of its ongoing traffic safety campaigns, the Alberta government advises pedestrians and motorists to follow these road safety tips:
- Obey all traffic signs and signals.
- Always walk on the sidewalk; if there are no sidewalks walk on the side of the road facing traffic.
- Wear bright or light-coloured clothing or reflective strips when walking in dark or low-light conditions.
- Cross safely at corners and crosswalks, preferably at intersections with traffic lights.
- Stop at the curb to show drivers you intend to cross the road; hold your arm straight out at right angles to your body pointing across the road as a legal sign to motorists that you wish to cross the road.
- Look left, right and left again before proceeding to cross the road; cross when traffic has come to a complete stop and make eye contact with drivers in each lane that you cross to ensure you are seen.
- Continue crossing the street if the light changes to ‘don't walk’ while you are in the crosswalk.
- Watch for traffic turning at intersections or entering and leaving driveways.
- Scan farther down the road and obey posted speed limits. Always be prepared to slow down or stop.
Avoid loud music and other distractions when driving.
- Use caution when approaching intersections or mid-block crosswalks. Allow pedestrians to cross the road before proceeding.
- Be cautious in parking lots or when backing out of a parking stall or driveway.
- Slow down around parked or stopped vehicles as they may hide a pedestrian who is crossing the road, particularly children who may dash out into the street.
- Stay alert and slow down on residential streets and through school zones; the speed limit for school and playground zones in urban and rural areas is 30 km/h unless otherwise posted.
- Watch for the school safety patrol wearing orange vests, and stop as directed. School safety patrollers play a vital role in directing children safely across the street.
Okay, that's the basic, standard advice. Now here is some of my own:
1) If it is late at night or early in the morning, it is pitch black outside, and you are walking, please don't wear black pants with a black jacket with a black hood pulled up over your head. You don't look like a ninja, you look like a criminal, and besides no one can see you when you cross the road. How do I know this? Because the guy who darted out in front of my car last winter almost became a hood ornament because I could not see him.
2) Hey you jaywalking on Franklin, especially in front of the Jubilee Building? Cut that out. There is a crosswalk on every corner. so drag your lazy ass to it and cross there.
3) Don't dart in between parked vehicles to cross the street. Would you want a kid to do this? No? Then you shouldn't do it either. When I was six I did this and got mowed down by a bicycle, and I have never done it again. Thank god it was only a bicycle.
4) Everybody needs to slow down. What is up with speeding inside the city? I have seen people whipping around residential neighbourhoods like they are in the Grand Prix. This needs to stop, especially now that it is summer and there are going to be a lot of kids on the streets. Drive like those are your kids, and slow down.
Look people, in the end we need to look out for each other. Safety is up to all of us, and so pointing fingers is not helpful. Just as there are "bad" drivers there are "bad" pedestrians, and we need to all address our own bad habits. And then we need to make sure our kids are still on board with the rules, and we need to have this discussion within our families and our workplaces. We have lost one life already this year in a pedestrian-vehicle collision - but it is in our power to make sure we don't lose any more.
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