Calgary police report 5 pedestrian deaths in 2018, up from 2 in 2017

City officials calling the recent string of pedestrian involved collisions unusual, but not unprecedented. Dani Lantela / Global News

Calgary police confirm five pedestrians have been killed so far in 2018, up from only two deaths in all of 2017.

The total number of pedestrian-involved collisions is expected to be made available next week, but the city is already taking note of the recent rash of incidents.

Police have responded to multiple pedestrian-involved collisions over the course of the last two weeks.  A 70-year-old man hit on Thursday was taken to hospital in life-threatening condition, but has since improved.  Days earlier, another man in his 70s died after being hit by a vehicle downtown.  A three-year-old boy was also killed last Friday, after being hit by a vehicle in northwest Calgary.

“It was a deadly week,” said Ward 7 councillor Druh Farrell. “So we should be learning from every one of these incidents so that we can look to prevent them.”

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According to city officials, pedestrians are involved in around one per cent of collisions, but account for 15 per cent of the total number of casualties on city streets.

“It is a little bit unusual, but not unprecedented that we have a number of collisions that are clustered together,” said City of Calgary traffic safety leader Tony Churchill. “We’re trending similar to previous years.”

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The conversation around pedestrian safety has been top of mind recently, with the frequency of these collisions and the debate over lowering residential speed limits.  A video also surfaced this week of a fifth grader trying to cross Acadia Drive S.E. at an unmarked crosswalk, with cars zipping by.

Churchill said the city is working to tackle the issue.

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“Traffic calming, putting in enhanced crossings and other things like modifying our traffic signals so that pedestrians get a little bit of a head start before traffic starts to move,” Churchill said, describing some of the measures the city is pursuing.

According to Churchill, 130 rectangular rapid flashing beacons have been installed, enhancements have been made to overhead flashing lights at multiple crosswalks around the city. Traffic calming has also been installed at over 60 locations.

Bridgeland is one of the pilot locations for the traffic-calming curbs — a measure the community association believes is already making a difference.

“It’s a massive improvement,” said Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association planning director Ali McMillan. “People saunter across the crosswalk now and they don’t feel that they have to hurry through the intersection. They’re so much more visible than they were before.”

Officials hope to be able to implement more of the strategy, but it depends on budget talks later this year.

“We’re going to continue doing all that work,” Churchill said. “Council indicated they may be funding that pedestrian strategy in a more meaningful way, so that’s really positive.”

The city is hosting community traffic safety meetings to give residents a chance to raise concerns about problem areas.

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The plan is to take that feedback and use it to implement the pedestrian strategy, pending the funding in next year’s budget.

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