To the Editor,
Re: Coroner reports deaths of students struck on Parkway, Oct. 26.
It is tragic that three young people have died, struck by automobiles while crossing the old Island highway in north Nanaimo. Descriptions of the tragedies all emphasize youthful pedestrian error. Does that make the losses inevitable?
Retail services line both sides of the highway, six malls in less than 10 kilometres, with many pedestrians, yes, sometimes out of crosswalks or against the light. There could be more crosswalks but is there another way to improve safety?
Slowing down gives drivers more time to see and a better chance of avoiding pedestrians. Where the youths were killed the limit is 80 km/h. Is 80 ‘too fast for conditions’ when pedestrians are present? After dark? On rain-slick roads?
Closer to downtown the speed limit lowers to 70 at Norwell Drive, to 60 at Northfield and to 50 after Waddington for the next six kilometres through central and south Nanaimo. Along the Terminal-Nicol corridor, where the speed limit is already a sensible 50, the road is being re-designed to make it more liveable and safer, with pedestrian crossings, treed medians, etc. Meanwhile cars race at 80 along the north-end highway, through three of the most dangerous intersections on the Island.
Street design is important. Traffic calming features, like ‘curb extensions’ at intersections, both narrow the width of pedestrian exposure and create a bottleneck that slows drivers. Sadly, drivers seem to be more careful to avoid running over a curb than to avoid hitting a walker.