Being hit while crossing the street in Halifax seems to have become a weekly occurrence. Turn on the news on any given day and there's a good chance you'll hear about an unfortunate soul being injured while trying to get from Point A to Point B.
During a two-month period at the beginning of the year in the Halifax area, there were more than 40 reported car-pedestrian accidents, about 20 of which occurred in a crosswalk.
It's easy to lay the blame on the inattentive driver or pedestrian. After all, it's a busy city and everyone is in a hurry. But to do so would be hasty.
Earlier this month, the news hit closer to home. A woman was struck crossing the street in Windsor. Thankfully, she only suffered minor injuries and is going to be OK.
This accident needs to serve as a wake up call. Accidents can and do happen, even in small towns. And we're certainly not immune to a busy lifestyle. It's time we ask our town council to take action to ensure the safety of all, and of course, take personal responsibility as well.
The number of near misses experienced in downtown Windsor are a cause for concern. Talk to anyone who spends much time on foot and they'll quickly point out the trouble areas. Don't cross near the post office unless you make eye contact with the driver. Don't cross near Victoria Park unless you're ready to sprint. Be prepared to wait to use the crosswalk linking Gerrish Street to Water Street.
Pedestrians have been facing increased risks when crossing the street for some time now.
While society frequently brushes off the incidents — few are ever reported to the police — there appears to be a growing trend of near collisions between walker and driver. It's a trend we need to nip in the bud.
On the Hants Journal's Facebook page, news of the woman being struck by a vehicle caused much reader engagement. Instead of placing blame on the driver or the victim, people were quick to share their experiences and provide constructive feedback on how to improve the conditions so as to prevent future accidents.
One of our readers suggested the installation of a three- or four-way stop be considered to help slow down the traffic, making crossing the street at Gerrish and Water safer.
Others suggested repainting the existing crosswalks, incorporating the bright white 'zebra' lines at all intersections that don't require a motorist to come to a full stop, and improving signage.
These improvements will certainly cost some money to implement, and to maintain, but doing nothing will cost far more in the long run.
If we hope to attract tourists and promote the downtown as a destination, we must ensure a safe environment for all. Increasing crosswalk visibility and enforcing the laws will aid in helping residents, and visitors, make wise choices.
There are already ad campaigns circulating throughout the province, and in particular, in HRM, to encourage shared responsibility for crossing the street. While it stands to reason that texting, checking phones, adjusting music and other forms of modern day distraction do lead to increased pedestrian-motorist collisions, the onus is on all of us to be safe.
With the summer weather upon us, there's no time like the present to freshen up our faded crosswalks to ensure safety is pushed to the forefront.