Halifax close to marking 1 year with no pedestrian deaths

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WATCH ABOVE: Halifax is one day away from marking a major milestone — the city is close to marking one year without a pedestrian death due to a traffic crash. Marieke Walsh looks at what's changed – Dec 30, 2016

Halifax is one day away from marking a major milestone — with just one day to go in 2016 there have been no pedestrian deaths.

READ MORE: More than half of Halifax accidents happen at crosswalks

It’s the first time in at least six years that the municipality has hit zero pedestrian fatalities.

According to statistics from Halifax Regional Police, since 2011 the number of pedestrian deaths has hovered around four per year. In 2013 there were only two but so far 2016 is the first time in several years that the city hasn’t seen a single death.

Halifax Regional Police spokesperson Const. Dianne Penfound said the drop in fatalities is “wonderful” but said the city is still challenged by the number of crashes involving pedestrians. The numbers went up this year over last year.

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“People are still being hit so there’s still obviously work to be done,” she said.

Dalhousie researcher Ahsan Habib said the drop in deaths is an indication that the city’s efforts in the last few years are paying off. Habib is the director of the Dalhousie Transportation Collaboratory – better known as DalTRAC.

“I would not discount this as a statistical blip,” he said. “There are positive things that we have seen.”

He said Halifax has made significant improvements to visibility at crosswalks with more signage and zebra stripes painted on the road. And he said awareness campaigns through the city and Dalhousie engaged the public and the heightened enforcement from police also made a difference.

READ MORE: Halifax police hand out reflective armbands to promote crosswalk safety

Deputy Mayor Steve Craig helped spearhead many of the initiatives after he was elected to council in 2012. He said the monthly reporting of collisions has given the public and policy makers a better sense of the issues.

He said the reports help shed light on who is causing the collisions and whether particular intersections are “problematic and require attention.”

Habib said in order to turn the drop in deaths into a trend the city can’t let up. He said when the city is designing new roads or retrofitting old ones the focus should be around safety for pedestrians.

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“We always design our roads for vehicles, for cars, we should design our roads for people — that’s the main message.”

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