A Halifax pedestrian safety advocate says immediate action needs to be taken to reduce the number of pedestrians struck by vehicles in the city.
“We’re very used to hearing about pedestrians hit on crosswalks (in Halifax), in particular,” said Martyn Williams, who created the Facebook group HRM Safe Streets for Everyone.
“Generally, that’s a long-term trend. It’s very disturbing.”
According to statistics released by Halifax Regional Police and Nova Scotia RCMP on Tuesday, a total of 175 pedestrians were stuck in 168 collisions throughout Halifax Regional Municipality in 2019.
Four of those resulted in fatalities.
Seven others had major injuries, 39 had moderate injuries, 64 of the injuries were described as minor and 59 were unhurt. The condition of the remaining two is listed as unknown.
Williams fears if nothing is done, those numbers will only grow.
“This happens year after year and we don’t assess the safety of our crosswalks to determine what’s going wrong,” he said.
“It isn’t inevitable that people get hit on crosswalks. There should be a safe place to cross the road, and there’s clearly not in Nova Scotia. That’s very disturbing for anyone who relies on walking to get around here.”
According to the police statistics, 53 of the incidents resulted in drivers being ticketed, while the pedestrian was ticketed in just 10.
No ticket was issued in 105 of the incidents.
Police add that more collisions happen from November to February, when it’s colder and darker. The most in a single month, 25, occurred in December, followed by 24 in February, 20 in November and 19 in January.
The incidents that worry Williams, however, are those that occurred in crosswalks, accounting for 62 per cent of collisions.
Despite HRM and community-led crosswalk initiatives being put in place, such as Heads Up Halifax and crosswalk flags, Williams believes it needs to go beyond that.
Specifically, he’s concerned about high incident numbers on artery roads such as Pleasant Street and Lady Hammond Road, where two pedestrians were struck by vehicles and died last year.
“These are the killer roads that aren’t safe to use by pedestrians,” he said. “They need to identify and apply appropriate safety countermeasures, so that means making crosswalks safer by design.”
Williams is calling for the establishment of a road safety plan so that the public can see what is being done to ensure safety at every crosswalk in the city.
“We need an action plan and something in place,” he said.
“If there is a particular nasty incident, at the very minimum we need to address that to improve safety.”