Rise in pedestrian deaths sparks call for improved crosswalk safety

Average of three people hit by vehicles every two days

Calgary has a five-year plan aiming to completely eliminate all transportation fatalities and injuries in Calgary. There have already been three pedestrian deaths this year, after nine in 2013.

The deaths of two pedestrians in less than a week — and a steady growth in the number of pedestrian collisions — has reignited calls for improved crosswalk safety in Calgary.

Statistics reveal that an average of three pedestrians are hit by a vehicle in Calgary every two days, and data released by city police show a steady increase in the total number of pedestrian collisions. There were 548 pedestrian collisions in 2013, compared to 537 in 2012 and 511 in 2011.

City data indicates most vehicle collisions involving pedestrians occur from July to December, but with three pedestrian fatalities already in 2014, Calgarians are concerned.

Habib Qureshi said in the past month and a half he’s had three close calls while walking in the same Beltline crosswalk where a woman was struck and killed last week.

“I don’t feel safe walking in Calgary. The drivers are not paying attention,” said Qureshi.

“It’s people rushing through, they don’t see the pedestrians.”

To date in 2014, there have been three pedestrian fatalities and two serious injury pedestrian collisions on city streets.

Vladimir Kaitman, 92, died after he was struck and dragged by a truck reversing out of a driveway while walking near his home in Bowness on Jan. 18.

On Wednesday, police said Jacoba Jean Davidson, 26, of Calgary has been charged with unsafe backing in connection with the fatal collision.

The city’s second pedestrian fatality of 2014 occurred Feb. 13, when Shelly Pauletto was struck and killed while crossing the street at the intersection of 10th Avenue and 5th Street S.W.

Days later, on Feb. 17, 26-year-old Moises Morales was killed when a Honda Accord struck and dragged him in the 4000 block of Centre Street N.

Dilan Ursan, 25, who has previously been convicted of drinking and driving, was charged with hit-and-run causing death in connection to Morales’ death.

In 2011 there were six pedestrian fatalities in Calgary and 11 in 2012. There were nine pedestrian fatalities in 2013, including the death of a woman who was struck by two vehicles. That incident sparked an urgent notice of motion from then alderman Gael MacLeod for a city study to help prevent pedestrian-auto collisions.

The motion resulted in the Calgary Safer Mobility Plan, a five-year plan that has a mission to completely eliminate all transportation fatalities and injuries in Calgary.

Former alderman MacLeod said she’s pleased something has resulted from her March 2013 motion, but said the recent fatalities emphasize that pedestrian safety is still an issue.

“As we become a bigger city and as we try to encourage different modes of transportation, pedestrian safety is going to increase as a priority. It’s part of growing up as a city,” she said.

Alex de Barros, an associate professor at the Schulich School of Engineering, whose expertise is in transportation safety, said that while all municipalities should be striving for zero fatalities, in principle it’s just not achievable.

“As long as you have human pedestrians and human drivers, someone is bound to make a mistake, and every once in awhile there will be a fatality,” de Barros said.

“Humans make mistakes. It is our duty as designers and engineers to design the facilities to be forgiving. It’s our duty to take into account the fact that humans make mistakes.”

Calgary ‘starting work’ on a ‘pedestrian strategy

By Robson Fletcher
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Robson Fletcher / Metro

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The “rectangular rapid flashing beacons” at this crosswalk on Radcliffe Drive S.E. were part of a pilot project the city undertook, beginning in 2011, that is now set to be expanded.
Calgary is in the process of developing a “pedestrian strategy,” the city’s transportation manager revealed Monday, something that came as news to the mayor and members of council.

“The transportation department has identified a pedestrian strategy as one of our 2014 major projects,” Mac Logan told council. “That work is already starting.”

His comments came during discussion over snow-clearing on so-called “engineered walkways” – pedestrian paths that aren’t sidewalks and aren’t pathways, but something sort of in between – and in response to a point raised by Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart.

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The Ward 13 representative noted that the city has formalized documents outlining its approach toward roads and transit, but walking is overlooked.

“We really don’t have a pedestrian mobility strategy,” Colley-Urquhart said.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi echoed that.

“This is an important transportation mode and we often forget about it,” he said.

Calgary engineer reveals most dangerous intersections for pedestrians

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After being hit twice by vehicles as he was walking, a Calgary engineer turned 16 years of police data he obtained through freedom of information into a map showing the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians.

Photograph by: Stuart Gradon Stuart Gradon , Calgary Herald

After being hit twice by vehicles as he was walking, a Calgary engineer turned 16 years of police data he obtained through freedom of information into a map showing the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians.

Using a Google Fusion Table, Dustin Jones plotted the total pedestrian collisions from 1996 to 2012 at every single intersection in Calgary in anonline map because he wants to educate pedestrians.

“I’m just hoping that it helps to educate people about where they are potentially at risk when walking,” said Jones, who obtained the data from the Calgary Police Service through Freedom of Information request.

“I have a number of friends who have been hit or seriously injured in accidents. Each of these points on the map is somebody’s story about being in an accident.”

Some of his findings show, for example, that 45 pedestrians were hit by vehicles over the span of 16 years at intersection of 17th Avenue S.W. and 4th Street S.W., a trendy spot near shops and restaurants, the point where 17th Avenue meets Mission.

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Eight of those pedestrians were seriously injured.

On Forest Lawn’s International Avenue, from 26th to 61st Street S.E., more than 150 pedestrian collisions, including 34 at the intersection of 17th Avenue S.E. and 36th Street S.E., took place between 1996 and 2012.

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Near the 39th Avenue LRT Station, at 39th Avenue S.W. and Macleod Trail S, 20 pedestrians have been hit since 1996, including one who died, and three who suffered major injuries.

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Two pedestrian deaths in marked crosswalks in a less than a week earlier this month has prompted calls for improved crosswalk safety in Calgary.

Statistics released by police reveal that an average of three pedestrians are hit by a vehicle in Calgary every two days.

In January, a Calgary senior, who was wearing a safety vest so he would be visible to motorists, was killed while walking near his Bowness home.

Jones’ map uses coloured markers to signify the number of collisions that have occurred on city streets, and clicking on each marker shows how many collisions resulted in death or major, minor, unknown or non-existent injuries.

The map shows no area of the city is exempt from pedestrian collisions.

Jones said he was surprised at just how many Calgarians are hit while walking.

“For every pedestrian fatality that you hear about in the media, there are a large number of major injuries that happen and an even larger number of minor injuries that happen,” Jones said. “We only see the tip of the iceberg in terms of the overall injury picture of what’s happening. The data really shows there’s a much broader amount of injuries happening.”

Coun. Druh Farrell referred to Jones’ collision map last week as she argued in favour of the proposed 1st Street S.E. bike lanes. The plan would protect pedestrians by keeping bicycles off sidewalks, she said.

On Sunday, Farrell said when she first saw Jones’ map, she was “saddened and not surprised.”

“My lack of surprise was what was so sad. (Pedestrian collisions) seem to be considered just a hazard of city life and that response will not help us improve the situation,” she said.

Historically, pedestrian safety hasn’t been a priority in Calgary, said Farrell, referencing the fact that new communities have only recently been required to build sidewalks on both sides of the street as one of many examples.

“It’s something that is an after-thought to many people, including our own transportation department. They’re getting better at it, but it’s slow progress,” she said.

Jones is hopeful Calgarians will use the map he created to advocate for change at the extra troublesome or dangerous intersections in their neighbourhoods.

“It is pretty sad that there are so many injuries happening,” he said.

The intersections with the highest number of total pedestrian collisions (1996-2012) in Calgary are:

* 17th Avenue S.W. and 4th Street S.W.: 45 total pedestrian collisions

* 6455 Macleod Trail S: 41 total pedestrian collisions

* 3625 Shaganappi Trail N.W.: 39 total pedestrian collisions

* 17th Avenue S.E. and 36th Street S.E.: 34 total pedestrian collisions

* 14th Street S.W. and 17th Avenue S.W.: 34 total pedestrian collisions

Here’s the map showing Dustin Jones’ efforts:

Calgary groups call for 30 km/h speed limit on residential roads

Glenn Kelly / For MetroA vehicle passes a 40 km/h sign.

Advocates in two Calgary communities are calling for speed limits on residential streets to be reduced to 30 km/h, saying the change would drastically reduce the risk of death in motor-vehicle collisions.

Jodi Morel undertook the campaign in Mount Royal after witnessing the scene of a fatal motorcycle crash earlier this year.

“It was quite horrific,” she said, adding that, based on the distance the rider was thrown and the injuries he sustained, she initially figured he must have been excessively speeding.

But police told her otherwise.

“They had, in fact, measured it and it was within what they would expect from 50 km/h,” Morel said.

Dale Calkins, meanwhile, founded a group called 30 For Sunnyside and is calling for a similar speed-limit reduction in his neighbourhood, based on similar research in that Morel cites.

“30 km/h is significantly safer than 50 km/h and much, much safer than any speed over 50 km/h,” he said, referring to several studies he presents online.

Calkins said he wants to simply start a conversation on the idea in Calgary, although he recognizes there will likely be resistance.

“I think a lot of people will look at this and say ‘This is too inconvenient,’” he said. “But it’s only in residential areas and really your trip times will only be impacted by a few seconds.”

‘He was like an angel’ — Family mourns Calgary boy killed in dirt-bike collision

Contributed by the Nahal familyFamily and friends are mourning the death of 12-year-old Neil Nahal. The Calgary boy was killed when his dirt bike collided with an SUV over the weekend.

He may have only been 12 years old, but Neil Nahal loved to explore and had big aspirations.

“He always said he wanted to be mayor when he grew up,” recalled younger sister Sanna Nahal with a smile. “He had this golden aura — he walked into a room and lit it up. Everyone just gravitated towards him, he had a pure heart.”

“He was like an angel,” added fellow sibling Shawna Nahal, who watched with admiration as her younger brother toured with family through London and Paris a few weeks ago, taking great interest in the European art and architecture he spotted along the way.

But now friends will be left to wonder what could have been, as Neil was struck and killed by a car while aboard his dirt bike Friday just a block from his southwest Calgary home.

On Monday, family and friends alike deemed the corner where Neil was killed in the 1900-block of 10A St. S.W. dangerous, adding it was likely neither he nor the 16-year-old driver of the vehicle that hit him saw each other until it was too late.

Friends and family said Neil’s father Satpal Nahal always made a point of keeping a close watch over his son.

“We were, very, very close,” Satpal said. “He is my only son and my best friend.”

Sister Joti Nahal added, “We have the best dad in the world and we will always remember Neil as our angel.”

Neil’s three sisters and first cousin Sundle Sandhu spent an hour sharing numerous fond memories of him Monday afternoon. Sandhu, specifically, said the youngster always put a smile on her face.

Police have said they don’t expect charges to be laid in relation to the collision.

Neil would have turned 13 in two weeks and begun Grade 8 at nearby Mount Royal Junior High School in September.

Classmates, including Jaslynn Kanwal, set up a makeshift memorial on the fence bordering the school’s playground over the weekend.

“Everyone’s trying to hold up right now,” Kanwal said. “He was just a free-spirited person — he was the most energetic person I know.”

Memorial information

  • Plans are being finalized to hold a memorial in honour of Neil Nahal at Queen’s Park Cemetery, located at 3219, 4th St. NW. Wednesday afternoon.


Montreal reduces city speed limits

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CBC News Posted: Jul 07, 2009 9:34 AM ET Last Updated: Jul 07, 2009 12:36 PM ET


Montreal announced Monday that speed limits on residential streets will be reduced to 40 km/h within the year. ((CBC))

Montreal and Quebec’s transportation ministry have reached a deal to allow the city to reduce speed limits on its streets to 40 km/h from 50.

The speed reduction has been in the works since the city asked the ministry for permission to lower the speed limit in 2006.

The city released a statement on Monday, confirming that Quebec Transport Minister Julie Boulet finally gave permission for the speed change once the city and the province worked out how the new speed limit would be phased in.

Limits on streets in residential neighbourhoods would drop to 40 km/h, while major arteries would stay at 50 km/h.

The city said it would try to save money on signage by posting the speed change by sector. The city would put signs at entry points in each sector instead of street by street.

City spokesman Darren Becker said the main reason for the change is safety.

“There’s statistical data that proves that by reducing the speed limit by just 10 kilometres an hour, you can significantly reduce the chances of serious injury and death,” Becker said. He added that increased awareness and policing have also brought the number of traffic injuries down significantly.

The city said new limits should be in place sometime next summer.