After the year 2018 marked the deadliest year for pedestrians in Montreal since 2012, safety advocates are calling for change to stem the tide of pedestrian deaths in the city.
Eighteen people were killed on city streets in 2018, according to the Montreal police department’s annual report released on Wednesday. The number is up from 15 in 2017 and last year marks the highest number of deaths seen on the roads in Montreal in the past six years.
Nigel Spencer, who runs Pedestrian Montreal, says he is worried about summer months on the roads.
“In the last few days we’ve seen even more fatalities and injuries and I don’t expect that will get any better in the summer,” he said.
“I think there’s a general free-for-all that’s developing.”
Spencer says there is a lot of frustration about traffic from Montrealers behind the wheel.
“People want to get home, so they drive through other people’s neighborhoods as though its a freeway,” he said.
WATCH BELOW: Pedestrian deaths continue to climb in Montreal
After a pedestrian was hit in downtown Montreal early Thursday morning, police are warning people to be more careful.
“You have to respect the lights,” said Montreal police spokesperson Manuel Couture.
The 45-year-old man survived after being struck by a taxi at the intersection of St-Denis Street and Mont-Royal Avenue. Police say he appeared to be intoxicated and was crossing on a red light when the taxi hit him.
“You have to respect all the traffic signs, and from the car you have to look everywhere and be extra careful, because it’s pretty dangerous for pedestrians,” Couture said. “They don’t have any protection.”
In March, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante introduced a plan to reduce road accidents and deaths on the city’s streets.
The plan, which is part of Vision Zero, was described as an ambitious strategy designed to improve safety throughout the island. It includes measure like reducing speed limits and improving crosswalks to make them more visible for drivers.
Spencer agrees with the plan, but he said he would go a step further to protect pedestrians.
“There are some cities that put cameras at all stop signs and crossings, that’s a lot,” he said. “But we could start a pilot project to make people aware that they’re being watched for their speed.”
Spencer also suggests the city should follow the lead of Vermont and other New England towns and install “rumble strips” at pedestrian crossings.
“Those are the little ridges in the asphalt before the stop signs to slow people down,” he said. “It makes a little vibration in the car to remind people to slow down.”
— with files from Global News’ Phil Carpenter