24 Hours: Who's standing up for pedestrian safety?

Post by Mike Klassen in


pedestrian safety
An image from Port Coquitlam's pedestrian safety marketing program

Good morning, commuters. I draw your attention to page seven of today's 24 Hours newspaper and my latest column titled "Don’t forget about walking safety". I've already received some interesting comments by email, including folks from our transit system who really know who are the biggest culprits when it comes to pedestrians not paying attention to traffic:

it's "the absolutely clueless ones on Robson Street who don't even pay lip service to the idea that anyone else is around them -- and have no idea that they need to integrate into the rest of the system"

Anyway, that sounds like the seeds of a good debate. So let me ask our readers – how can we improve pedestrian safety and make Vancouver a more walkable city?

Are we so concerned with the welfare of two and four-wheeled travelers in Vancouver that we're not paying attention to those who walk? Vancouver will host a conference on walking – Walk 21 – next year in the fall, that will surely kick off a debate.

Also, I highly recommend Frances Bula's recent feature story in Vancouver Magazine, which partly inspired my 24 Hours op/ed.

- post by Mike


Drivers - stop when you see a pedestrian waiting to cross at marked or unmarked cross walks. If we had done this sooner perhaps we wouldn't have been inundated by traffic slowing controlled crossings.

Pedestrians - its ok to break stride before crossing the road. Take a look around even if you have the right of way. Also, don't start crossing when the don't walk sign is flashing.

Cyclists - stay off the sidewalks.

And don't overtake me when I've stopped for a pedestrian crosswalk... that's crazy dangerous! -


Police: Get out of your cars and do your jobs which includes the enforcement traffic laws.

The only time I ever see a cop out of their cars is to go to Starbucks or to harass a homeless person (last time it took 3 patrol cars to deal with a guy who was about 5'2 and 100 pounds).

Cyclists: Get off the f-ing sidewalk.

Seriously, last week I witnessed a young hipster attempting to navigate the sidewalk on his bike on ROBSON STREET, at lunch time!

Taxi-drivers: Slow the hell down, you'r e not in an F1 race.

This might be the article from the Transit guys you're looking for.


Tragic story of a young couple walking against a red light and in front of a speeding car. The guy walking was yakking on his cell phone at the time. The driver, who had the right of way, didn't even see them step out until they got hit.

Vancouver has just opened up the far side of crosswalks for the parking of motorcycles and scooters. there used to be a 6 meter buffer between crosswalks and parked cars. This reduces visibility of pedestrians at crosswalks, and now when large vehicles turn they don't have as much room for the rear tires to get around the corner. The city has made these new spaces next to crosswalks meter spaces. The city makes money at the expense of pedestrian safety.


I reckon the lack of freeways has something to do with pedestrian safety.
I would rather all those vehicles be on the freeway instead of city side streets.

I have lived in downtown Vancouver for over eight years and I make most of my trips on foot.

If Mike were to go to Montreal or Toronto he would see why they have fewer pedestrian accidents. I was in both cities last month (I have also lived in both) and have the following observations.

No right turns on red lights in Montreal. Some intersections even give advanced pedestrian green so they can clear the turning lanes before the cars get a green.

Major intersections in Toronto have no turns at all! (Yonge-Dundas and other Yonge Street intersections). Crosswalks on major streets where there are no traffic signals have the crosswalks clearly identified with illuminated overhead ped-X-ing signs. These identify the crosswalk to motorists and also light the crosswalk and those in it. Vancouver could use such signs on Oak Street, Knight Street, South Granville where there are long stretches with no traffic lights.

For some reason drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are more obedient and follow the rules of the road much better than Vancouver. I don't know how that happens but it's a much more pleasant walking experience than Vancouver.

Toronto has many more cyclists than Vancouver and not a bike lane anywhere I could see. Cyclists share the road and, for the most part stay off the sidewalks. Montreal has some bike lanes and, like Vancouver, they are a combination of separated road lanes, marked road lanes and some on marked sections of sidewalks. Frankly, these bike lanes are more confusing for all involved (especially the two-way bike lanes).

Why don't we just copy what they are doing - it seems to work.


Montreal pedestrians obedient?? Something drastic must have happened in the 3 years since I stopped travelling there. Against red lights they cross streets, even right in front of police cruisers. And cars consider pedestrians fair game. My bosses were always astounded by people crossing in Vancouver as cars obediently stopped. Said they would be run over in Montreal.

Yes, Toronto, 3am, empty streets - people waiting patiently for walk light.

Impatient or distracted drivers are everywhere,town or city, running over your toes in the middle of crosswalks, careening out of lanes & driveways without looking, passing on the inside without considering a pedestrian may be infront of the stopped car. We just remember those drivers far more than the courteous ones.

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