Officially, unmarked crosswalks exist at all intersections and are to be treated the same as any marked intersection. But what is an unmarked crosswalk? All non-freeway intersections are, officially, unmarked crosswalks. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Dangers remain the same for marked, unmarked crosswalks

'Imaginary lines drawn across the street, from one edge of the sidewalk to the other'

The definition as to what constitutes an unmarked crosswalk in B.C. has become a slow burning issue.

Due to growing concern over driver-caused fatalities and injuries, the question as to just when there is an unmarked crosswalk is getting more attention in recent years.

It’s certainly an area of concern for traffic enforcement such as Oak Bay Police, said Oak Bay Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties, mostly due to speeding drivers.

“[Oak Bay Police’s] understanding is that any intersection is also a crosswalk,” Bernoties said. “Personally, I see no benefit to anyone by driving fast in residential neighbourhoods. In Oak Bay, virtually every street is someone’s street so people should drive the way they want people to drive by their house and their children and pets.”

Last month a woman watched as her dog was run over and killed by a hit-and-run driver while she was crossing on a painted crosswalk on Foul Bay Road (the driver hit and injured her too). This week, the driver Tenessa Nikirk who took Leila Bui’s conscience life away, is in court for her actions on Ash Road in Saanich in 2017 while allegedly speeding up to 90km/h and possibly texting when she struck Bui.

These incidents are happening on marked crosswalks, and anyone who uses crosswalks in Victoria knows many drivers will not stop even if it is a painted crosswalk.

There’s no measured evidence that it’s more dangerous to cross at an unmarked crosswalk but logic says it can’t be much different.

One rule that’s different in B.C than other provinces is that drivers are under no obligation to wait until a pedestrian is off the crosswalk before driving through it.

Section 179 of B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act says only that “a vehicle must yield the right of way to a pedestrian where traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation when the pedestrian is crossing…”

READ MORE: Hit-and-run driver kills dog, injures owner in Oak Bay crosswalk

The act defines a crosswalk as either: the portion of the roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by signs or by lines or other markings on the surface, or … the extension of the lateral lines of the sidewalk, curb or edge of the roadway (whether it is marked or not).

In a blog, Victoria lawyer Darren Williams interpreted this as “within the imaginary lines drawn across the street, from one edge of the sidewalk, curb or pavement edge, to a similar edge on the other side of the street.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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