Watch Where You Walk

Pedestrian CrossingA man I observed in a parking lot started me thinking about how little care we sometimes take for our own safety when we are pedestrians. I was preparing to back out of my parking spot and had put my truck in reverse, then did a scan to the rear before I started letting up on the clutch. A male crossing behind me did not slow or even bother to look to see what my intentions were.

Perhaps he didn't even think to notice that my truck was idling and the backup lights were on.

ICBC Collision Statistics

The most recent collision statistics published by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia are for the year 2020. The provincial five year average ending in 2020 shows that 2,400 pedestrians were injured and 52 died in collisions. One might guess that children would be the most likely victims due to being impulsive and inexperienced.

Pedestrian Fatalities 2016 to 2020

icbc pedestrian fatality statistics 2016 to 2020

Pedestrian Injuries 2016 to 2020

icbc pedestrian injury statistics 2016 to 2020

Older Adults Are The Problem

This is not the case as the majority of fatalities involved pedestrians over the age of 50. Older pedestrians were also in the majority when the injured were counted as well. Why is this happening? Contributing factors on the pedestrian side included making an error or being confused, being under the influence of alcohol and failing to yield the right of way.

Drivers Fail to Yield

On the driver's side it was being inattentive, failing to yield the right of way and making an error or being confused.

Communication is Key

I walked part way to work this morning and encountered a woman leaving a driveway I was about to cross. She noticed that I had checked my stride and was making eye contact before I moved into her path. She must not be used to this as she called to me and told me that I didn't need to worry, I could cross and she wouldn't hit me.

I appreciated the communication and was confident that I could pass in front of her safely.

Pedestrians Need to be Aware

pedestrian distracted walking

The underlying idea here is that a pedestrian has to take responsibility for their safety, even if it means giving up your right of way to an inconsiderate or inattentive driver. Keep your head up, make eye contact and never move from a place of safety unless you are absolutely certain the drivers have seen you and present no threat of collision.

You may also wish to consider not using items that draw your attention elsewhere such as music players and cell phones when you are walking anywhere that you may come into conflict with a vehicle or cycle.

Comments

WATCH WHERE YOU WALK

Tim - Good advice for both walkers & drivers! I shop at Quality Foods, Qualicum Beach and am horrified by the near misses I often see in their (above ground) parking lot. Pedestrians seem to feel they have a God Given right to amble back and forth across that very busy lot without
the slightest consideration for their own safety - until they get into their own vehicles, then its 'walkers take warning'!!

Watch where you walk

Hi:

I thought you were one of the people who recommended drivers back up into parking spots to avoid the potential problems of backing out into the traffic lane. Maybe I'm confused.

Confusion

Well, the article is about watching where you walk, not how to park.

I don't always take my own advice, even when I should.

Is It Worth Your Life?

I have personally grabbed 2 individuals about to step off the sidewalk directly in front of an approaching vehicle (one a transit bus and the other a taxi) in downtown Vancouver. In both instances the individuals I saved from injury (or worse) were on a cell phone and walking directly towards a crosswalk. Unfortunately they didn’t think to check to see which way traffic was flowing.

It always disappoints me to see so many pedestrians (not to mention drivers, bicyclists and motorcyclists) who are listening to music and/or talking on phones while in traffic. Is that worth your life?

Amazing

It always amazes me that people (drivers themselves), will just walk behind a clearly running and reversing lights on car/van/truck when they know that there are blind spots and the driver may not be able to see you, or you just popped out from being hidden behind another vehicle, etc.

I drove a work van for years that had no vision behind other than the 2 side mirrors, and cars, pedestrians, cyclists,etc, just assumed that even though I was edging out really slowly till I could "see" that my crystal ball vision knew they were approaching at high-speed, and no responsibility is shown for personal protection.

A large hunk of metal versus flesh and bone is no contest - I prefer to wait and make that eye contact for my own health, every time

My Practice

I’m almost 70 so I know I don’t see or react as well as I use to, so I wear my safety jacket (CSA orange industrial with retro reflective stripes) when I go out in the car, and my retro reflective motorcycle jacket if I’m on the bike.

I don’t use my phone when I’m walking and never wear earbuds etc.

I also stick to side walks even if the walk is slightly longer than cutting across a lot (especially at night)

It always bothers me that lots are still designed for drivers rather than walker (even though no one can shop without getting out of their vehicle)

As a driver, I always back into spaces if I cant drive through, so I can see better when I am pulling out.

Magic Force Field

On a few occasions I have witnessed pedestrians press the light on a crosswalk and then step out into the crosswalk without checking the traffic, as if they are protected by a magic force field. Scary!

Not Enough Information

I used the link to see icbc cycling data and found a summary page for annual data showing injuries reported and fatalities. I couldn’t drill down to find greater detail. Moreover I find that the data in and of itself doesn’t provide insight other than revealing trends.

I would sure like to know specific to the fatalities; where they occurred (intersections or not), what factors were involved (visibility etc.), and which party was at fault. That’s what I am hoping the Vision Zero approach will provide.

I Prefer to Avoid Conflict

As a pedestrian I would prefer to not have the right of way. I prefer to let cars by and cross when the road is open. I don't want to hold up traffic and less conflict is safer.

Obviously this doesn't always work when the street is very busy.

Watch where you walk

Pedestrian safety is a worthwhile topic but in my opinion your overview seems to contain a fair amount of victim blaming. 

Older pedestrians aren't 'the problem'.  There are a number of reasons why they may be over-represented among pedestrian fatalities, including but not limited to:

  • needing more time to cross a street
  • reduced ability to react to an imminent collision
  • reduced ability to recover from injuries  

Summing up, they are simply more vulnerable.

Similarly, there is little evidence that distracted walking is an issue in the way that distracted driving is, as determined in a recent study: https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/05/13/study-many-transportation-pros-wrongly-think-distracted-walking-kills/.

Seeking to 'make eye contact' is common sense - we all do it when we're uncertain - but it's not a pedestrian safety panacea.  Apart from the issue of dark tinted windows, I've learned that even when I think that a driver has seen me they may in fact be looking 'through' me in search of the direct hazard to themselves - approaching motor vehicles. 

 

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