Steve Wallace: Distracted walking a dangerous habit

Drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and people using all sorts of other transportation options seem, at times, oblivious to the dangers around them. It does not matter whether the dangers lurk at intersections or on straight roads. A casual attention to personal safety is prevalent. Is it too much to ask that pedestrians walk facing vehicular traffic? One would think a simple sense of self-preservation would motivate people to do what every kid in school is taught.

Drivers can be ticketed for distracted behaviour behind the wheel. The car, as a cash cow, is an accepted alternate tax collection system. The sheer damage a motor vehicle can do is testament to the reason for some very substantial forfeited funds by unfortunate drivers. It is the most efficient life-threatening machine ever invented.

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But what about pedestrians? They are their own worst enemy. It is an offence to walk across an intersection with one’s head buried in the face of a cellphone. Have you ever seen a ticket issued for such self-serving and dangerous behaviour? There are instances where a preoccupied texting pedestrian has walked into a telephone pole or other such obstacle and sustained considerable injury. What should drivers and cyclists do when they encounter a pedestrian with a figurative head-in-the-clouds? A tap of the horn is acceptable, but it should be done in a non-threatening manner.

Tamara regularly rides her bike all over town. She warns others of her approach by ringing her bell. On several occasions, it appears pedestrians pay her no mind. WHY? These unaware pedestrians are more concerned with their ear buds than the dangers that are all around them.

Harry thinks the addition of a bell on all bikes and alternate forms of transportation should be mandatory. I could not agree more.

There seems to be some confusion about whether a cyclist can ride a bike in a crosswalk. It is called a cross WALK, not a cross RIDE. Frances has tried to shed some light on the subject. He has checked the city of Victoria website and it seems the practise is unlawful. Section 42 2 (A) of the city bylaw deems it illegal. But Frances knows the cycling coalition says it is legal in some municipalities (Victoria, Saanich, Esquimalt, Colwood and Langford), and not others, such as View Royal, Central Saanich, North Saanich and Sidney. This is strange. The real situation in several Island municipalities is seen as a mystery rather a well-known fact. Does anyone know the actual bylaw applications? Perhaps the cycling group can clarify. A clarification in a future column will most certainly appear.

D.B. made some obvious comments about the Galloping Goose trail in the CRD, (the Capital Regional District, not to be confused with the Cariboo Regional District. How dumb is that? Two CRDs in one province! But I digress.)

He says the Goose belongs to everyone and all should be accommodated. He’s not alone. Many pedestrians on the regional trail feel bullied by cyclists, who do not warn of their approach from behind, and seem offensive to pedestrians as they ride several abreast. D.B. sees expensive road bikes on a regular basis. He wonders why an addition of a $10 bell is not a safety priority. He wants to know why the size of a stop sign on the trail is about the same size of a dinner plate. Surely, a standard stop sign would make a safety statement. D.B. has a great quote: “The Goose is not the place to be seeking a land- speed record for a cyclist.” He wants to see a public relations campaign by the CRD encouraging both safety and respect on this fabulously successful Island endeavour.

Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former V.P. of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a U of Manitoba graduate.

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