RCMP volunteers Mike Bodden and Courtney Sketchley keep an eye on Bowen Road traffic for drivers on phones, speeding, not wearing seatbelts and other infractions Friday. The traffic watch was part of Pedestrian Safety Day when the City of Nanaimo, ICBC and RCMP set up at Bowen Road and Dufferin Crescent to promote ways for pedestrian, drivers and cyclists to commute more safely during darker days. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Heads up, phones down for Pedestrian Safety Day

City of Nanaimo, RCMP, ICBC host event to promote safe walking, cycling and driving

Pedestrian Safety Day was hosted at one of Nanaimo’s busier intersections on Friday to promote ways to walk, cycle and drive safely through dark winter months.

As fall and winter set in, daylight hours become shorter and darkness and weather can hinder visibility for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

Police, volunteers, ICBC and City of Nanaimo representatives gave safety tips and handed out reflective zipper pulls people could attach to clothing and backpacks to make them more visible to drivers.

Dave Cusson, the city’s community policing coordinator, said the Bowen Road at Dufferin Crescent intersection was chosen for last week’s event because the intersection sees frequent crashes and there have been incidents of pedestrians hit by vehicles.

“We’ve been promoting it all month, but we’re going to focus on that one intersection where there’s been pedestrians hit … we want people to be, ultimately, safe when they’re out and about,” Cusson said.

He said the timing for the event is chosen because people are still adjusting to the end of daylight savings time and dark, rainy nights.

“It’s a transition time…” Cusson said. “The first rainy day, the roads are slippery, so it’s kind of like that whole idea, OK, let’s get tuned in to the time change and tuned in to people being out and not everyone wears reflective clothing and that makes it even worse.”

The event also promotes avoiding distracted walking by paying attention to surroundings and keeping heads up, cell phones down and headphones off when crossing the street and interacting with vehicles on the road.

“Forty-three per cent of all crashes where a pedestrian gets injured happen in just four months of the year [from October to January] as visibility and conditions worsen,” said Caroline Robinson, ICBC road safety coordinator, in a press release. “When driving, we need to take a break from our phones, be extra alert at intersections and be ready to yield the right-of-way. When walking, we need to help drivers see us by staying focused on the road and making eye contact with drivers.”

For more information on pedestrian safety, visit the ICBC website at www.icbc.com.



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