Why did the Vancouverite carry a brick to cross the road? Safety campaign is no joke

Click to play video: 'Can these bricks help improve pedestrian safety in Vancouver?'
Can these bricks help improve pedestrian safety in Vancouver?
A tongue-in-cheek campaign in Vancouver is urging pedestrians to carry a realistic brick while using the crosswalk. Why advocates say the road safety initiative is no joke. – Apr 1, 2024

Would the sight of a brick-toting pedestrian crossing the street get you to slow down?

That’s the premise of an eyebrow-raising traffic safety campaign underway in Vancouver, though the bricks aren’t real.

The initiative was the brainchild of a group called Vision Zero Vancouver, which advocates for infrastructure upgrades and enforcement with the goal of reducing traffic fatalities and injuries to zero.

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Over the long weekend, the group installed bins of foam rubber “bricks” at crosswalks in Granville Island and the West End. Signage is posted encouraging pedestrians to “be seen” by grabbing a brick, looking for traffic, waving at vehicles and crossing.

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“What we have here is foam bricks for people to hold up and wave as they cross the road,” Vision Zero traffic safety advocate Lucy Malone said.

“It’s to poke fun at the idea that it should be the obligation of a pedestrian … to actually beg for safe passage across the road. We can do better than that.”

The campaign is a tongue-in-cheek response to a dangerous crossing at Nelson and Nicola streets in the West End where one resident installed buckets of red flags for pedestrians to hold as they cross the road.

Similar flag initiatives have drawn the ire of road-safety advocates in other cities.

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“It was really a red flag for the city to install better traffic-calming infrastructure at the intersection, and that hasn’t happened,” Maloney said.

“The real message here is we have to install traffic-calming infrastructure to slow cars down and to make sure that people can cross the road safely whether or not they are dressed in a particular way, whether or not they have to wave something around.”

Maloney stressed that the campaign is purely intended to poke fun at a car-focused culture that puts the onus for road safety on pedestrians, not drivers.

She said organizers are not encouraging people to make any threats with real bricks, and would never condone violence.

According to ICBC, an average of 33 pedestrians are killed and 1,742 pedestrians are injured in collisions in the Lower Mainland annually.

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