Several pedestrian accidents in recent weeks at a busy St. John’s street have sparked another round of public discussions on crosswalk safety. Will it take similar accidents in Conception Bay South to get the same attention to crosswalks here in our town?
The St. John’s crosswalk in question is near Memorial University and the Aquarena, and the scene of many accidents over the years. Two pedestrians were struck in the past few weeks. The accidents prompted another round of public protests about safety, all assisted by the various media that spent several days staking out the scene.
I regularly use the city crosswalk in question and, like other pedestrians, regularly experience drivers ignoring me or paying more attention to their phones. Those failing to respect the crosswalk are often not just regular drivers. I’ve seen city buses and public and commercial vehicles with their business logos on the side routinely fail to stop for pedestrians.
There are also drivers using the street who are likely frustrated too, by those pedestrians who choose to jaywalk and hold up traffic despite the three crosswalks on the street.
Drivers and pedestrians are no different here in C.B.S. However, what is different is that we have few crosswalks, or at least in most areas of the town. And most of the time we have to do our own version of jaywalking to get across two and four lanes of highway where most drive well above the 50-km/h limit.
The 20-km Route 60, or the C.B. Highway portion in our town, is a provincially owned, busy highway and was not designed nor is currently maintained with pedestrians in mind.
Yes, there are crosswalks near schools, at intersections with street lights, and in the east end in Topsail and Chamberlains and in downtown areas in Manuels.
In the rest of the town, and especially in busy areas like Kelligrews where there are only two crosswalks on Route 60, you are often risking your life when trying to cross the road. Most drivers stop, but when they do there is always a chance that someone will pass on the inside or rear end someone who has stopped.
While the provincial government has neglected to provide safe crossing areas on Route 60, the town of C.B.S. has gone to the other extreme on some roads it owns and maintains.
On a 1.6 km stretch of Fowler’s Road, from Buckingham Drive to the intersection of Route 2, there are six crosswalks. That is more crosswalks per metre than anywhere else in town. The road was upgraded several years ago, and pedestrian safety was definitely on the top of the priority list.
Other side roads in the town, which are equally busy, have few or no crosswalks.
Crosswalks are not necessary on every corner. However, we do need them near busy intersections and near public buildings and spaces. Sports fields, service clubs, churches and similar buildings should have crosswalks to facilitate pedestrian traffic during regular and larger events.
Pedestrian safety and crosswalks should not only get public attention when there are accidents and protests. Do people have to be injured or lose their lives to get the provincial government and municipal officials in our town to see the need for pedestrian safety? Why is there a priority on crosswalks on some streets here in C.B.S. but not others?
It is time for our town to make pedestrian safety a priority on all roads, and lobby the provincial government for the same for Route 60.
Joan Butler is a lifelong resident of Kelligrews, Conception Bay South. She can be reached
by email at email@example.com.