The Duke of Data Simon Fraser University’s Andy Yan has a compelling question which he shared on twitter~”what if we treated the statistics of pedestrian, cyclists and automobile injuries and deaths like daily Covid 19 updates?
It’s an interesting thought~Would posting those numbers on a daily basis temper driver behaviour and have all users proceed with more caution? Would there be less injuries and less fatalities?And what exactly are those numbers?
We are now entering the danger months in Metro Vancouver for pedestrians of all ages. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) observes that November, December, and January are months when vehicle drivers crash into pedestrians, with dusk being the worst time. Even more sobering 75 percent of pedestrians are being crashed into at intersections, with 57 percent of those crashes happening when the pedestrian actually was legally crossing and had the right of way.
Current data on injury is notoriously hard to get, but ICBC’s access to statistics is improving. The Coroner’s Service provides data on pedestrian deaths in British Columbia, and that includes people on roller skates or boards. Between 2010 and 2019 an average of 56 pedestrians a year died on British Columbia roads and streets. November had the highest average annual number of deaths at 7.4 per 100,000 population, followed by January with 6.9 deaths per 100,000 population.
Sadly, 28 percent of all pedestrian deaths in B.C. happen in Vancouver and Surrey. Of those, fatalities 58 percent were male, and 59 percent were aged 50 years and older. People that were 70 years or older represented one-third of all fatalities.
That data shows the need to focus on reducing older adult pedestrian fatalities. From January to November 2019 there were no pedestrian deaths for children aged zero to nine, and two deaths of children 10 to 18 years of age. There were 29 pedestrian fatalities across the province from January to November 2019 for people aged 50 years and older.
The City of Vancouver Police Department provides data on their website on pedestrian, cyclist and vehicular and motorcycle fatalities. From 2014 to 2019, 51 pedestrians have died on Vancouver streets. In that same time period, two cyclists died, and there have been no cyclist fatalities in the last three years.
In the same last three years, 21 pedestrians died in the city.
That means an average of eight pedestrians a year die on Vancouver streets. We have already had six pedestrian deaths to October 6 of this year. Why is there not an outcry about this completely preventable loss of life?
You can take a look at the Vancouver Police Department’s table on Road User Fatalities below.
On a per capita basis, Vancouver has a worse record of killing pedestrians than the City of Toronto which is actively campaigning to reduce road violence. A survey by ICBC in 2017 showed that nine out of 10 drivers worry about hitting a pedestrian at night, particularly in wet weather, while eight in 10 pedestrians don’t feel safe in those conditions.
The map below from the Vancouver Police Department shows where Vancouver fatal collisions occurred in 2019, with the red triangles showing where pedestrians died. Those fatalities are clustered along arterials and in the southeast quadrant of the city.
Metro Vancouver is unique in having dark, wet winter days and evenings without the reflectivity of snow. Add in dark clothing and umbrellas on the street, and it is difficult for vehicle drivers to see and vulnerable road users to be visible.
Surely it is time to have a serious discussion about stopping these needless pedestrian deaths in this city. That can be accomplished by lowering speed limits in residential areas (as already mandated in an unanimous motion of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities) addressing driver education, behaviour and inattention, creating better intersection visibility and better road design that limits speed on arterials.
In Vancouver eight lives a year depends on this. Why can’t we step up?