Monday, August 15, 2011

Sensationalism in the media? No way!

The FreeP is doing a multi-part story on just how dangerous the streets of Winnipeg can be, "Walking and cycling can be deadly - as more of us hike and bike will the death toll rise?" While I don't disagree with the sentiments that there can be many deadly issues with cars and bikes and people (see a good blog post by One Man Committee here as well), my beef is with their stats.

Now, buried in the article in today's FreeP is the fact that "Other times, pedestrians are jaywalking, intoxicated or not paying attention." Now, the "death toll" (such an ominous sounding label) for this year stands at 4 people, and when I read their list of what these incidents were, two immediately rang bells for being unusual incidents. The most recent one, in June, was the unfortunate event of a presumed street person falling under the rear tires of a delivery truck, no charges were laid against the driver. In April, a man lying in the middle of Redwood Ave at 4am was hit by a fire truck when it did not have time to see the body because of a vehicle travelling in front of it. I was unable to find a news article to confirm it but it was believed that the man was heavily intoxicated. Now, those are two of the four deadly crashes with pedestrians on the roads of Winnipeg, and somehow their deaths don't make me fear being a pedestrian. The same goes for anytime someone is hit while playing Frogger to get across the road.

I absolutely think that Winnipeg drivers need to pay more attention while driving, and I have of course had my moments as well, although One Man Committee would be please to hear that I am generally awesome when it comes to pedestrians at yield lanes. Although equally important to drivers paying more attention is for cyclists and pedestrians themselves to pay more attention. It may be well and good that they were in the right and that it was totally the fault of the vehicle, but if you're dead your gloating opportunities are limited. Things that they need to remember:
  • Vehicles can't stop immediately just because you pushed the crosswalk button, make eye contact with the drivers before you start to cross the road, and pause to make sure that all lanes are clear as you cross each one.
  • Don't hang out at the crosswalk and talk with your friends by the sign, because the drivers that are courteous and slow down for you to cross will just get irritated that you aren't wanting to and may be less likely to slow down next time.
  • Cyclists using the sidewalk (which I personally am okay with, more on that in a second) should dismount to cross intersections or should bloody well keep an eye out for cars making turns - they may have looked to see if any pedestrians were coming but if you're still on your bike you are coming up faster than they were looking for obstacles.
  • When you're riding your bike on the sidewalk, remember that although cars are supposed to stop before the sidewalk, they rarely do. This is particularly true with cars exiting back lanes. Yes, they are supposed to stop, but see above for how if you're dead that it doesn't do you much good to be right.
  • Oh, and since being an idiot still gets you into the stats, don't pass out in the middle of the road, don't try to "fake out" drivers by pretending you're springing out in front of them (had that happen the other day), jaywalk with common sense understanding that you are doing something that the car cannot predict.
So, I think I've mentioned this before, but I really don't have a problem with bikes on the sidewalk, it generally seems like a safer option for them (especially if they follow my rules above). In general, I don't fear getting hit by car anymore than I fear getting shot here in the North End, although I would suspects it would actually be more likely to be hit. I am not in a gang so I will probably not get shot. I am a courteous pedestrian, yes there is such a thing, so I will probably not get hit by a car. Winnipeg's roadways were designed by someone who likely got their planning degree in a Crackerjack box, since we can't change them, we need to learn to all work together for the safety of all citizens.

*steps down from her soapbox*

Oh, and with the recent shootings in Transcona* does that make me more likely to get shot there or run over by a Firebird? ;) Just kidding Transcona, I love ya!

*I was very sourly informed by someone who feels the same way I do about how negative things get attributed to the North End and positive ones get their proper neighbourhood named, that this part of the city is NOT Transcona, but rather E.K., according to the assessment map it does seem to be classed as T-Cona, but I'm glad that other people have issues just like me!


  1. You get the One Man Committee medal of honour for keeping an eye out for pedestrians in yield lanes!

  2. I frequently confuse pedestrians at the yield onto St. James St. from Portage Ave., albeit admittedly a very easy one to look for pedestrians since you don't really have to watch for oncoming traffic.

  3. I think overall and continued poor planning continues to plague the city when it comes to traffic issues and transportation whether is bus, car, bike or pedestrian.

    You can trace a lot the Kenaston woes to the former council who where dismissive of service roads and as a result have had to spent tens of millions of dollars to correct the problem.

    Add to the active transportation that puts up traffic circles that are completely unsafe for drivers, bikes or pedestrians. If you think a pedestrian has the right of way when entering crossing there, think again.

    There is a big difference between a good traffic circle and a bad one. And we have a lot of bad ones.