Friday, July 2, 2010

Vancouver is Canada' most dangerous city for pedestrians

Frances Bula has a very good, but sad article coming out in Vancouver Magazine about a pedestrian who was killed in Vancouver

It prompted a considerable number of posts on her blog as to why Vancouver is such a dangerous city for pedestrians. I have a few thoughts, based in part on my travels around the world. I posted the following comment on her blog, but thought it might be worth repeating here, especially if it can get the attention of someone from ICBC and the local police.

I am astounded at the number of times I see people trying to cross at pedestrian crosswalks, while cars zip by without even thinking about stopping.

Often, when one car stops, (whether at a cross-walk or mid-block) the others do not. Unfortunately, I don’t think we can rely on human decency to address this problem. We need a public campaign and stiff fines to help people get the message.

I think the situation at many major intersections is now so serious that we should consider banning the right to make a right turn on a red light.

We should also consider copying what they do in Auckland and other cities, (and what we used to do in Vancouver) and stop vehicular traffic in all directions so that pedestrians have the right of way at the intersection…they can even cross on the diagonal.

While it would probably be beneficial to subject motorists to regular retesting of their drivers’ licenses, I realize this would be a challenge to implement. However, ICBC and the police could initiate a ‘continuing education’ program for motorists and pedestrians with full page ads in newspapers, and on-line quiz’s.

I am the first to admit I don’t always understand the respective rights of pedestrians and motorists, especially at some intersections with flashing lights, and some of the new roundabout configurations.

Finally, we need to change the driving culture in the cities and province. For one thing, anyone who drives into an intersection when the light is changing, and gets stuck in the intersection should be pulled out of their car and publicly assaulted. Ok, maybe that’s going too far. But let’s do what they do in many UK cities and fine that person an obscene amount of money for ‘entering the box’.

I would also like to see us implement regulations similar to those in Australia, where you are fined for passing ‘on the right’. (Well, it’s on the left in Australia, but you hopefully know what I mean.)

Yes Virginia, you are not allowed to pass in the curb lane. We all do it, of course, myself included. But I don’t even know if it is against the law here. It is in many parts of Australia. By promoting and enforcing such a rule, we might be able to help reduce some traffic fatalities.

I would also like to see us mark dangerous intersections as they do in some jurisdictions. A bright yellow sign with some red zig-zags and exclamation marks should help some people get the message.

Hopefully someone from ICBC will let us know if any of the ideas posted on this blog make sense. And if they do, let’s see some changes.

BTW, the situation in China and Vietnam and many other countries is much more dangerous. But we can’t do much about those places. We can do something about Metro Vancouver.


Anonymous said...

Rather than ticketing those who pass on the right, what about ticketing those who always drive in the left lane.

So many times I've seen a queue of cars driving calmly in the right lanes and no one tries to pass. Very calm and peaceful it was.

There's too much of "punish the symptom" rather than "fix the problem" these days.

Fix the problem said...

Vancouver has no freeways, therefore commuters create their own defacto freeways. 41st, Granville, 12th, 1st-Terminal-2nd, Oak, Cambie, Knight...

The speed limit is 50, but you will be passed on the left and right by all those that feel that they deserve to go 80 or more. Or that they've waited for enough red lights in a row, and just want to get going, even if the lights are changing.

The city is preoccupied with bikes right now, and therefore frustrating drivers even more with new concrete barriers popping up all over town.

Another problem is our pedestrians. Drivers are much too reckless with sudden lane jumping, speeding, cell phoning, and fast cornering for our pedestrians to wander into traffic without complete attention. Your iPod or cell phone won't protect you when there's an equally innattentive driver coming at you from behind.

Educate the pedestrians, ban cars passing on the right, retest all drivers every 10 years. (Pay special attention to large pickup trucks, and the more expensive model cars, they seem to feel entitled being ahead of everyone else on the road) We already have rules for a lot of the things you mentioned, it's just that they aren't enforced often enough.

Michael Geller said...

Excellent comments...thanks