Pedestrians: Vulnerable Road Users

Walk SignalYesterday in a four hour period @ScanBC reported a half dozen vehicle / pedestrian collisions around the province on Twitter. Today while out walking during my lunch hour I watched a woman jogging with her back to traffic, in the lane instead of on the sidewalk, while wearing earbuds. A van squeezed between me and the curb as I crossed an intersection on the walk to my vehicle to get home. Are you surprised that these collisions are occurring?

When we walk at night I think that we tend to underestimate how vulnerable we are. We can see all of the vehicles around us because they are brightly lit. Most pedestrians are anything but. We dress in dark clothing, do not wear reflectors or carry a light. This may actually help us hide behind the brightness and go unseen by drivers until the last second or until it is too late.

Both drivers and pedestrians routinely ignore the traffic controls that are there to protect them by creating order and expectation. Why wait? If you think about it, walking when the signal says not to exposes you to drivers making turns who expect you to not be there. Instead, they focus more on finding a gap in traffic to make their turn than anticipating you in the crosswalk.

Right of way or wrong, the pedestrian has the most to lose in a collision. Obey the signals, use the crosswalk, be visible at night and look all around you before you cross the street. It's probably better to wait out the inconvenience than to walk out into traffic and pay the price for haste.

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About a week or two ago I was driving home from church late in the evening and I approached the intersection by the Shell Junction at the foot of Memorial in Qualicum Beach.

I was heading West along the old highway toward the direction Garrett road. All of a sudden as we approached the intersection of the Old Highway and Memorial my wife yelled “STOP”. I slammed on the brakes and as I was going less than 50 KMs per hour was able to stop ahead of the crosswalk. Then a young woman, with black skirt, black coat, black boots etc walked in front of my stopped car. It was pitch black and a slight drizzle. I never saw her, she had not activated the flashing lights to cross the road and had taken a leap of faith. If my wife wouldn’t have yelled (bless her back seat driving soul) I doubt  that I could have stopped in time if the woman would have walked in front of me.

It was surprising to say the least that this would have happened. If she would have worn brighter clothing at least or activated the lights I would have had a chance at seeing her.

Agreed and I am assuming that even if you were "right" and you hit a pedestrian on a crossing that you would likely get a ticket for careless driving or similar. It would be hard to prove you were right without a dashcam.

The other one that I find dangerous are people who approach a crossing (no lights) and in daylight just assume that even though you are very close to the crossing already and will have to brake hard to stop (if you are totally aware of everything), that you have seen them and just walk out in front of everyone without making sure that you have seen them and are slowing down. This assumes that they are aware and not talking on a mobile or texting.

As a pedestrian I always assume that drivers haven't seen me unless they make eye contact and slow down and even then I keep watching as I cross.




The dangers I am talking about are the times when you are crossing on the crosswalks in broad daylight and the vehicle driver acknowledges you. I always make sure before I cross that they have seen me on the crosswalk. And you start to cross and they all of a sudden come directly at you and you have to start waving your arms in the air to stop them. This has happened far to many times to not say something about it. The drivers when I look into their cars are quite apoligetic for doing this. However, as a pedestrian that may not help if I didn't start waving my arms in the air. I always think of the elderly who are not as aware as I am to sudden changes in their environment. 

This has even happened at marked and signalled crosswalks in my small city. And of course at bigger cities I have lived in. The only thing I can determine is the common denominator is the degree of stress in our society. It seems when stress is part of their lives that erratic behaviour results and lack of attention to what is happening right in front of the driver occurs. I also believe that it is a two way responsibility for safety on the for drivers and one for pedestrians. At night, I am extra vigilant on the crosswalks and even let drivers go ahead of me to clear my way to cross the crosswalks. I wear bright clothing and now sport an armband that flashes like a bike light. 

I could go on and on and will not, I think you get my point it is dangerous out there for drivers and pedestrians as well. It's just that pedestrians stand to lose much more than the drivers in their heavy vehicles.