December 1, 2021

Danger Months for Pedestrians: Vancouver, where Sidewalks are not Safe

Winter are the danger months for pedestrians in this Province. Almost double the number of pedestrians are seriously injured in vehicle crashes between October and January when compared to the four month period between May and August.

In the entire province almost one third of all pedestrian deaths happen in Vancouver and Surrey, with nearly 60 percent of those deaths being males. In the last nine years 151 pedestrians have been killed in just those two municipalities.

Metro Vancouver is unique in having dark, wet winter days and evenings without the reflectivity of snow. Add in trees and rain and it is difficult for vulnerable road users, those without a steel vehicle frame to protect them, to be seen by vehicle drivers.

But there is a new wrinkle in Vancouver this year and it is worthy of note. To date ten pedestrians have been killed in the City of Vancouver. But four of those victims, or 40 percent were killed while they were on sidewalks.

That sobering horrible statistic suggests that wearing bright clothes or reflection does not help when vehicle drivers are out of control and crash their cars into people on sidewalks. There were two students killed walking on a sidewalk at University of British Columbia.  A vehicle crashed into a father carrying his two year old daughter in July. (There is a Go Fund Me campaign for the parents, who both witnessed the death). And in November  a man in a wheelchair was killed when a  vehicle driver lost control and crashed into him on a Davie Street sidewalk.

Kudos to the Vancouver Sun for producing a responsible video that outlines the statistics about pedestrian serious injuries and fatalities and do not once mention wearing reflectivity. That video is posted below.

In partnership with police departments, ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) records  sixty different contributing factors to pedestrian fatalities across the province, and you can view that graph here.  In the last four years  driver speed, driver distraction, and driver being impaired were the top three factors resulting in pedestrian deaths.

We need to address driver road speed, driver distraction, driver  impairment and road design.

All of these factors are out of the pedestrians’ control.

Slowing driver road speeds in municipalities should be a no brainer. The UBCM  (Union of British Columbia Municipalities)  unanimously approved a motion asking the  Province to allow for 30 kilometer per hour designations for residential areas off arterials. That was two years ago.

That designation  would allow these neighbourhood  areas to enact lower driver speed limit without placing costly regulatory signage on every street.

That would enable municipalities to spend that funding on slower street road design.

No one should lose their life on a sidewalk.


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  1. Postmedia and ICBC forgot one of the most important bits of advice to pedestrians: MAKE YOURSELF VISIBLE!
    As a driver, at night, in the rain, I am often terrified to see a pedestrian all dressed in black, often with a black umbrella suddenly appear in front of me. When it is rainy and dark, and particularly when there are many cars with the very bright headlights oncoming, it is virtually impossible to see them! I assume that, if I struck one of these people, the blame would be on me but I should be able to argue that hitting an invisible object should not be my fault. Pedestrians should wear light and/or reflective clothing or hang lights on themselves to make themselves visible.

  2. “We need to address driver road speed, driver distraction, driver impairment and road design. All of these factors are out of the pedestrians’ control.”

    I disagree with this assessment. Yes, if a driver comes up on the sidewalk and strikes someone then there’s really not much that the pedestrian could have done. But speed, impairment, distraction and yes, even road design can be countered with pedestrian vigilance.

    In most cases it takes two inattentive people to cause an accident. I say this without any intention to shift blame to pedestrians for driver screwups or to forgive any issues that make pedestrians more vulnerable, but rather to implore people to BE CAREFUL OUT THERE. Being in the right is of small solace if you’re hospitalized or worse. The states show that wet, dark conditions are more dangerous, so EVERYONE needs to exercise more care.

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