CARNAGE ON KAMLOOPS ROADS: Crosswalks a focus, but attention must be paid
At one of the spots where Westsyde Road and Parkview Drive intersect, the pedestrian crossing has it all: Painted lines, overhead signage and flashing lights.
To the south, where the two streets connect up again, it’s only the signs and lines — and it’s here that a vehicle struck a 20 year-old Kamloops man last week as he was crossing the road, sending him to hospital with serious injuries.
The crosswalk is already slated for retrofitting, like its counterpart a few blocks up, city traffic and transportation engineer Chris Darwent told KTW.
And, in the wake of a series of serious and sometimes fatal pedestrian collisions during the past few weeks, City of Kamloops staff are taking another look at their improvement priorities for the coming year.
However, Darwent said, the onus is on drivers and pedestrians to pay more attention to their surroundings.
“Every chance we get, we want to send a reminder out to both drivers and pedestrians to use the skills you learned in school to cross the road,” he told KTW.
For pedestrians, that means putting away cellphones and attempting to make eye contact with drivers before stepping into the street.
Drivers, Darwent said, need to remember pedestrians are legally allowed to cross at any intersection, even if there are no painted lines on the road.
“Even keep your eye open for inattentive pedestrians,” he said.
“Even if they don’t look like they’re going to cross, they still might, so keep your eyes open for people walking by the road.”
The pedestrian collisions won’t lead to any immediate action on the city’s part, Darwent said, though an accident history can bump an intersection up the priority list for curb extensions, flashing beacons and the like when the city decides how it will spend its yearly $125,000 on crosswalk improvement.
Streets with high traffic and pedestrian volumes and intersections near schools and parks also take priority.
While the city launched a pilot program this past summer aimed at getting drivers to slow down and follow posted speed limits, it is on hold until spring.
Darwent said the issue is that the “Hey Neighbour, Slow Down” program relied mainly on posted signs, urging motorists to reduce their speeds.
“In the winter months, it’s a bit trickier for us to do that,” he said.
Staff are also still working out whether the program, which ran on Valleyview Drive, Qu’appelle Boulevard, Rosehill Road and Fraser Street, was as effective as they would like.
While Darwent said motorists who were often going 70 km/h in 50 km/hr zones tended to reduce their speeds while the signs were up, there doesn’t appear to have been a lasting change in driving patterns in any of the areas.
“But, we did consistently see a drop with the signs up,” he said. “We want to keep trying it and see if we can get an effect when the signs are out.”
Though the signs won’t be back for several months, Darwent suggested motorists can still take a lesson from the program at this time of year.
“Pay attention to the speed limit. Even if you feel safer driving that way, take a step back and think about the driveways and corners,” he said.
“The road’s 50 for a reason in an urban environment like this. There’s just a lot of action going on.”