While I was driving south on New Cove Road the other day, all traffic suddenly came to a stop.
The problem was a brave, or desperate, pedestrian walking in the road with absolutely nowhere to go to get out of the car lanes.
So much for the city’s priority on clearing roads and at the same time essentially ignoring pedestrians. Automobile traffic and drivers are also affected by the lack of walking space.
Drivers have to be constantly watching for those who have no choice but to walk in the street. It is stressful and unnecessary.
It is a wonder there are not more serious accidents with the pedestrian coming out second best.
If all members of city council had to spend an hour walking in St. John’s on the day following a snowfall, I am sure there would be a change attitude towards the plight of pedestrians in this city.
Why is this so?
Every other major city in Canada has snow, with Vancouver and Victoria as possible exceptions.
They all have downtown areas where there is very little place to push snow, but they seem to cope. In cities I have visited in winter, such as Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax, you can walk safely, as all put the same priority on clearing and salting sidewalks as they do for roads.
The letter to the editor of The Telegram from David Coish on Dec. 30 (“St. John’s failing at snow”) and the Telegram editorial of Dec. 31 (“Snowed”) are very good regarding the deficiencies of St. John’s snow clearing and the distant second place of pedestrians.
It is time for an independent study of St. John’s snow-clearing policies and procedures.
I appreciate that city workers do a good job in difficult circumstances, but the review should focus on their direction, not on their present efforts.
Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from cities such as Montreal or Moncton.
Perhaps more and earlier use of snowblowers would be an improvement.
It is time for a new approach to replace the constant refrain from city hall that we cannot do anything more.
We can quite likely do things differently and more effectively.
Moncton is a good comparison, as its airport has an average snowfall of 350 cm per year, compared with 322 cm for St. John’s airport, according to Environment Canada’s averages for 1971 to 2000.
Here is a direct quote from the City of Moncton website on sidewalks: “Plow all sidewalks in the central business district and main arteries within 24 hours of storm end. Plow all remaining sidewalks identified on the Sidewalk Snow Clearing Plan within five working days from the end of the storm.”
What is the difference between Moncton and St. John’s?
Moncton would seem to have a higher regard for the basic safety of its citizens.