A Pedestrian with a Death Wish

Walk SignalThe collision counter on this web site estimates 33 pedestrian deaths and 1374 pedestrian injury collisions in BC to July 29, 2015. I almost added to that number driving in Vancouver last weekend and the incident still has me shaking my head. I can't believe that a pedestrian could be that stupid!

I had stopped for a red light in the downtown area and intended to make a right turn. After the pedestrian signal went red and the people had crossed, I pulled across the marked crosswalk and stopped again where I could see cross traffic well. I found my gap and was about to proceed when I looked right and found a pedestrian right in front of me crossing against the light. He was busy with his cell phone and was wearing earbuds and never even looked at me as he walked around the car.

He probably owes some of his good fortune to my wife who yelled and made sure that I hit the brakes before I drove over him.

The courts say that we can expect to proceed as if other road users will obey the laws. What that really means is if I had hit this person, he would probably have been assessed most of the fault for the collision. However, he was there to be seen and I would have bourne some of the blame too. Thank goodness it never came to that!

Police wrote only 210 tickets to pedestrians for failing to obey pedestrian signals in all of the province in 2014. It would appear that you have little risk of being called to account for this selfish behaviour.

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Tongue firmly in cheek.

Police wrote only 210 tickets to pedestrians for failing to obey pedestrian signals in all of the province in 2014. It would appear that you have little risk of being called to account for this selfish behaviour.

Yes indeed.  But it's heartwarming to know that if you're one of the many 7:00am commuters heading south on the Lion's Gate Bridge, and (like all of those around you) exceeding the limit - 80 km/h in this supposed 60 km/h zone is actually the norm - those eager beavers from the Vancouver Police Motorcycle Squad will be waiting to pounce on you when you reach the Causeway.

They can't be everywhere, you know!  

Pedestrians with death wishes

It seems to be becoming more and more common that pedestrians will walk against the lights and will become quite aggressive and offensive if you get anywhere close to them. Unfortunately pedestrian crossings are frequently on junctions where the demand for your attention from other traffic is high as well.

It always amazes me that people will walk in front of a moving mass of metal just because they think they are right, or they are just bloody minded, or these days distracted, as the simple physics of the mass of metal versus their soft body has only one ending and it never ends well for the pedestrian. (Or cyclist, etc.)

I agree though, even if as the driver you are correct in your driving, it will not end well from a Police or insurance view if you are unlucky enough to collide with a pedestrian.

Submitted by E-mail

Not sure if it is a death wish, or just the increasing sense of entitlement that a lot of (younger) people are developing. The same ones that drop their Tim Horton cups on the ground when they are finished.

I was hoping that Darwin would have taken care of the ear bud / pedestrian set by now, but I guess he is asleep at the switch. They must be reproducing as there seems to be no shortage of them.

I too had a (too) close call one day. I gave the offender a honk (or rather a 'toot' from my 96 hp Kia) and pointed to the red light, and he gave me the finger. Wished I was driving my F-150. Much nicer (350 hp) horn. It gets their attention, and not as many fingers.

Submitted by E-mail

Yesterday I followed a kid (teenager) riding his bike down the center of a residential Tsawwassen street - for almost 2 blocks. He was wearing ear buds and playing with his cell phone but I didn’t want to blow my horn and scare the hell out of him because I would probably get charged for something.

Ya know, I grew up on a ranch in the Interior. Our parents taught us to pay attention to our surroundings or maybe a bear would eat us.

The gene pool worked in those days.

It's about rules. Plus education. And, enforcement ...

... though maybe not in that order.

I have a collection of driving guides from different jurisdictions, and it's noticeable that both the UK Highway Code and the Hong Kong Road User's guide devote a large part of the first chapter to how one should behave as a pedestrian.  Walking on the right at night, Jaywalking, obeying Pedestrian Signals, all spelled out carefully and read by everyone, pretty much.

Pedestrians in the UK jaywalk all the time - but not when there's a car coming!  Pedestrians here can do the same, though many don't seem to realize it.  And let's face it, advising pedestrians that the best place to cross is at an intersection makes no sense, as that's a complex situation which you can't encompass without eyes in the back of your head.  Intersections are merely where pedestrians are likely to have the right of way; mid-block is probably the safest place to cross the street though, so long as you look both ways.

The ICBC 'Learn to Drive Smart' devotes basically two pages to advising drivers on how to deal with pedestrians, and one paragraph of 'tips' for pedestrians on how they should behave.  Not priority one with our Licensing/Safety/Insurance corporation.

But OK, we have the system that we do, where pedestrians usually cross at intersections; what part of "Don't Walk" are we not understanding here?  People need to realize that 'Walk/Don't Walk' signals were never invented to enable pedestrians - MVA Section 127(1)(b) & (2)(b) take care of that.  

These 'Walk/Don't Walk' Pedestrian Control signals were designed in order to restrict pedestrian movement, in order to allow vehicles to turn on the green light without crosswalk conflict.  Excellent idea!  It fulfils the dual roles of traffic laws - to promote safety, while enabling traffic flow.

These days, so-called Traffic Engineers seem intent on encouraging pedestrians to enter the crosswalk when they shouldn't, with these countdown timers instead of a "Don't Walk" command. As though there were shades of red, or something.

And as for the cops?  There was a time, not that many years ago, when they would deliberately target pedestrians, particularly in high-collision areas, making a concerted effort to discourage illegal jaywalking and/or disobeyance of the Pedestrian Control signals by handing out tickets.

But they haven't been making any serious effort in decades, here in this province.  And pedestrian deaths appear to be on the increase, while driver frustration does also.  I hope that those in charge are satisfied with the chaos they have created!

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