With eight incidents involving pedestrians between October 19 and 27 Halifax isn’t getting safer, no matter what councillors tell us. The city’s approach needs an overhaul, involving genuine participation by the community and clearly identifying and prioritizing those most prejudiced by unsafe conditions – children, the disabled, people of colour, seniors and residents in areas of affordable housing, often next to arterial roads, writes Martyn Williams.
Martyn Williams, on behalf of the group HRM Safe Streets for Everyone, has written a Councillors survival guide to safer streets and traffic. It targets mayor and council hopefuls, but it is also useful to residents as it sets out the issues, and what councillors can do to resolve them. It’s a comprehensive guide, and, much like Martyn’s articles, the product of meticulous research.
Two recent reports to Halifax Council, one on the pros and cons of right turns on red, and another an update on the Vision Zero Framework, show that motorists are like royalty in the city, and vulnerable pedestrians are mostly on their own.
Martyn Williams: Seniors rely on walking or cycling for mobility because they may no longer drive for health reasons, or because it is the only way they can enjoy much needed exercise. But the infrastructure they use is built for vehicles to move quickly and easily, not to meet the safety requirements of vulnerable road users of all ages and abilities.
Martyn Williams writes a letter to city staff and councillors to plea for safer intersections for old people and people who live with disabilities. “This is not an issue where engineers may balance the cost to vulnerable road user lives against the benefit gained to traffic flow. It is a human rights issue that requires urgent action and intervention by leadership through appropriate policy.”
Martyn Williams writes the Halifax road safety steering committee after drivers killed 8 pedestrians on crosswalks since the beginning of 2018.
A 3-year construction-related closure of a Robie Street sidewalk will require either a long detour along Agricola, a very dangerous unmarked crosswalk crossing of Robie, or a one-kilometre detour along signalized crosswalks. That’s too hard for many people who are older or who live with disabilities, writes Martyn Williams.
Two recent crosswalk incidents, causing injuries and death respectively, were the result of drivers turning right on a red light. These were not the first, and they won’t be the last. It’s time to act, writes Martyn Williams.
10 pedestrians died in Halifax traffic over the last 2 years, almost half of them while using a crosswalk. Making crosswalks safer is not rocket science, writes Martyn Williams, so why should we accept that our life and personal safety is less important than traffic flow?
There are so many concrete things HRM could and should do to make this city safer for all, but HRM rather focuses on “raising awareness,” writes Martyn Williams.