Invisible Pedestrians

STOP Cutting Corners

STOP Cutting Corners!

I’m guilty of it and, I’m guessing, so are a lot of you … I’m not proud of it but sometimes I go to work wearing a black or dark coloured jacket. Once in a while I’ll even wear a dark jacket with dark pants. The title of this story should help you figure out why this is a concern. If you’re crossing a street in the early morning or in the late afternoon you need to know that you’re nearly invisible to traffic.

I’ve noticed this problem for quite some time, but it appears to be getting worse instead of better. There were a couple of incidents these last couple weeks so I wanted to bring some attention to it. A pedestrian was hit by a vehicle at Victoria Park in the middle of the afternoon. I pass this way daily and each day I’m constantly on the look-out for pedestrians. Some of my focus is likely the fallout from my earlier pedestrian experience, but when you drive a vehicle you take on a lot of responsibility. In Canada one of these responsibilities is the safety of pedestrians.

One of the concerns I see is dark coloured clothes, but when it’s mixed with a pedestrian who has a “right-of-way” type attitude it’s a little disconcerting. Some pedestrians get to the corner and aren’t even breaking stride as they continue into the intersection. I have even seen people begin to cross without looking to see that it’s safe. We’ve had a lot of near freezing temperatures this winter and in slippery conditions vehicles are unable to stop quickly. Looking both ways before you cross the street is one of the first safety habits many of us have made. It seems so simple, but forgetting to do it can put you into a whole pile of hurt.

There’s a great awareness of distracted drivers and the hazards that are created when we aren’t paying attention while driving, but distracted pedestrians are also a cause for concern. Similar to the unbroken stride of some pedestrians I have seen pedestrians walk right into traffic while looking at their smart phones. There was a situation where a pedestrian went to cross the street even though vehicles were moving through the intersection and another pedestrian, deep into his smart phone, started to cross without realizing it was unsafe to do so.

Another very common infraction is the jay walk or even the half-way cross. The intersection of Victoria Avenue and Hamilton is certainly not the busiest in the world and hourly you would be able to observe four or five pedestrians crossing the street when it is unsafe to do so. These pedestrians will walk half way across the street then stand by the median while vehicles travel both directions beside them. If they lost their balance they would fall into traffic on one side of the street or the other. Since most pedestrians get caught at the median until the lights turn red, it appears this “Frogger” crossing tactic is employed to save less than the 10 seconds it takes to cross half the street. Clearly this is an unwarranted risk.

Pedestrians vs vehicles is never a fair fight so I would suggest the pedestrians always have a little more skin in the game. I don’t think we should be like some societies where the vehicles always have the right of way, but you’re certainly safer as a pedestrian if you take that approach.

Are you taking unwarranted risks? Are you paying attention to the task on hand and its related hazards? Are you dressed appropriately for the conditions? Are you looking out for the safety of those around you? Are you practicing the safety habits that you should?

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