City of Calgary Strives to be More Pedestrian Friendly
New strategy proposed to council in May hopes to combat high number of pedestrian collisions
Courtney Ingram, Contributor
The number of pedestrian collisions in Calgary has gone unchanged for almost a decade and civilians are beginning to question how safe the city is for walkers. However, the city of Calgary’s new pedestrian strategy hopes to see change by 2025.
Lately it seems like there’s daily stories about pedestrian collisions in the newspaper. Just in the past two weeks, there were four. According to the City of Calgary, 30 collisions happen per year, per 100,000-person populations.
Calgary has a yearly average of 500 pedestrian collisions, with an average of 300 injuries and nine fatalities. According to Calgary police statistics, these numbers have not changed in at least five years.
This year, there have already been 70 pedestrian collisions.
Julia Semeniuk, a high school student who walks to school from her home everyday, says she doesn’t feel safe at night or after school, “because people are usually really reckless drivers.”
Semeniuk says she would feel safer if there were more lighted crosswalk systems and neon signs that read “pedestrian crosswalk.”
Another pedestrian, Laura Combden, has taken to her blog to write about her frustrations.
One blog post called ‘The 7 Day Pedestrian Challenge,’ encourages readers to take the dangerous routes she has designed to show how difficult it is to get around the city safely without a car.
Combden has become very passionate about this issue after losing her boyfriend six years ago when he was hit by a car.
She says that a big issue in the city is a lack of sidewalks. According to Combden, from ninth avenue downtown to Inglewood, there are no sidewalks on one side of the road.
“Just basic things that every other city would have had in place by now just doesn’t seem to be a priority here for some reason,” her blog reads.
In regards to her boyfriend’s death, she argues that there is often too much blame placed on the driver or pedestrian instead of focusing on solutions.
Andrew King, the project manager of the Pedestrian Strategy for The City of Calgary, called STEP FORWARD, hopes that the new strategy will offer those solutions.
The plan, which will meet with the Transportation and Transit Committee on April 20, has 50 action plans laid out. There are four focus areas that the city hopes to improve by 2025: More people walking, fewer pedestrian injuries and deaths, better winter conditions for walking, and more walkable communities.
Once approved, the plan will then move on to city council on May 2. King says that after it’s finally approved, they will act quickly to create a pedestrian program to monitor the success of the strategy.
The plan will cost approximately $15 million between now and 2018, with an extra $60 million estimated for long-term projects, which could create setbacks when discussing with council. However, without it, King argues that the trend of pedestrian collisions will continue.
“These trends of decline in walking as a mode to get around have really burdened the road system,” says King. “Because that simply means more cars are on the roads…so there’s more danger, which then is reducing the likelihood that people are going to walk, so it’s sort of a vicious cycle.”
Combden is optimistic about the new solution-oriented strategy and says, “At the end of the day, the whole point is just to lower the numbers because there will always be pedestrian vehicle accidents but if we can lower the numbers, it’s a step in the right direction.”