Calls for the government to do more to make streets safer for pedestrians continue to grow louder. A day after a group of parents and children demanded safer school zones, a group of road safety advocates called on Quebec to create a provincewide road security strategy.
“We’re at crossroads,” said Piétons Quebec director-general Sandrine Cabana-Degani. “We either refuse to see the problem or act by implementing a road safety strategy.”
She and several other advocates gathered at a park a block away from the intersection where a seven-year-old girl died tragically in a hit and run last month.
With 10 pedestrian deaths since the beginning of December 2022, the coalition of activists and interest groups say a coherent provincial strategy is needed to make roads safer for pedestrians.
They say the current rules and regulations prioritize the rapid movement of cars, when they should focus on vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists.
“If we don’t put this strategy forward now, in 10 years we will have the same result as today and we will have more deaths on our roads,” said
Urban planner David Alfaro Clark, public affairs director at the Quebec Order of Urban Planners, was among those present at the event.
“The security and the safety of pedestrians needs to be the main priority,” he told Global News, adding that the problem is worse in the suburbs, where people need to walk across large thoroughfares with heavy traffic.
“Particularly in the suburbs, there’s a lot that needs to be done. There are a lot of people aging in the suburbs,” he said.
Alfaro Clark says municipalities of all sizes follow the Transport Ministry’s current road design standards, but those regulations often don’t pay enough attention to pedestrians.
“There are a lot of elements, a lot of parts of these standards that are more adapted for highways, so very much the fluidity of traffic and the capacity of traffic instead of the security of pedestrians and other vulnerable users,” he said.
There are also calls for the highway safety code to be amended. One example would be to implement tougher fines for drivers ignoring crosswalks.
“In Quebec right now, there’s a bigger fine if you get caught not paying a toll than if you get caught not respecting a pedestrian priority on a crosswalk,” said CAA Quebec public affairs director Nicholas Ryan. “That shows a lot about the culture right now.”
In Quebec City, Premier François Legault said his team is working on the issue.
“It’s something we’re looking at,” he said. “We also have to ask people in Quebec to be more careful, and we’ll try, if it’s possible, to change different regulations.”
Piétons Quebec said it has a meeting with Transport Ministry officials this Friday.