Pedestrians: silent heros of transportation system

This weekend’s appalling toll of pedestrians, killed or hurt in motor vehicle accidents, dramatizes the absence of an organized voice for this group, which occupies top spot in the city’s transportation planning priorities.

The VPD estimates the average death toll for pedestrians in November and December is two a month. While rain, careless behaviour and dark nights are part of the explanation, they are no excuse. We need safer streets.

This weekend, an elderly couple died crossing Prior at mid-block near Dunlevy. This is a treacherous stretch where traffic is heading to and from the Georgia Viaduct on what was once a quiet residential street. Five others were hurt in other incidents. One may lose a leg.

As Jackie Wong reported last summer in the West Ender, Vancouver’s pedestrians have had some determined advocates, like Bev Ballantyne and former COPE councillor Anne Roberts, but not an organized voice like Portland’s 18-year-old Willamette Pedestrian Coalition. (A comprehensive pedestrian transportation study completed during Roberts’ tenure was shelved after her defeat.)

The city’s new transportation plan should review previous studies, like the one steered through council by Roberts, and take special care to ensure spending priorities reflect transportation priorities — with pedestrians at the top of the list.