I woke up this morning to hear the radio news that yesterday two more pedestrians had been killed on Vancouver streets. This resonated with me for several reasons.
Last night, my wife and I were trying to cross Dunbar Street at a pedestrian crosswalk near 16th only to watch several cars speed through the crosswalk as we were attempting to cross. The drivers could see us. Sally was wearing white and very visible. Had we not been so careful, we might have been the third and fourth casualties.
While we need to educate pedestrians, other measures are also required.
I've also been thinking about road safety since later this week I'm heading off to Belgium. When I was last there the country had decided to make a concerted effort to reduce road fatalities. As I noted in my blog offering lessons from Belgium for Vancouver
"The country is making a concerted effort to reduce the number of traffic fatalities to no more than 500 a year. Canada is currently at about twice that." I noted that throughout the country there are well marked pedestrian crosswalks, raised intersections, creative school signs: the yellow and black striped poles were hard to miss.
Growing up in Toronto, I recall a "Point your way to safety campaign". Sam Cass, a roads and traffic commissioner proposed many ideas about improving pedestrian safety https://www.tvo.org/article/point-your-way-to-safety-the-complicated-history-of-crosswalks-in-ontario. While it wasn't completely successful, it did introduce several ideas that have lasted including Pedestrian Crosswalk markings.
The reason I am writing this blogpost is because I am convinced it is time for Vancouver to make a more concerted effort to raise awareness about the need for greater public safety. One way might be to have the police issue more tickets and substantial fines to those driving through pedestrian crosswalks when pedestrians are attempting to cross.
I would also like to see more video cameras at crosswalks and greater publicity about the consequences of not stopping when someone is trying to cross. I would also like to see reduced speed limits and more speed monitors like those found throughout Toronto.
We also need to enforce traffic regulations. In some countries, like Australia, it is illegal to constantly drive in the 'passing lane' rather than the curb lane. I often watch Driving School teachers allowing their students to drive in the passing lane, rather than the curb lane. I am not a traffic engineer, but I am sure greater enforcement of this, along with ticketing people who race through red lights or make right hand turns on red lights would eventually lead to more road safety. Maybe it's time to prohibit right hand turns on red lights like many other jurisdictions. Scramble intersections where all lights turn red at the same time might be another idea I've seen in other places like Auckland NZ.