With our office located near busy Granville and Broadway Streets and my work regularly taking me into Vancouver’s downtown core for court-related appointments, I frequently find myself at intersections with high vehicle and pedestrian traffic. One of my recent observations from this experience is that both drivers and pedestrians need to be especially vigilant in high-traffic areas and share responsibility for watching out for each other.
Over the last few months alone, I have witnessed some close calls between drivers and pedestrians that are easy to avoid. In particular, I have seen a number of near accidents where the following scenario occurs:
- A group of pedestrians is facing a ‘Do Not Walk’ signal.
- A driver facing in the same direction as the pedestrians is stopped at a red light.
- The driver wishes to make a right turn at the intersection, but cannot make the turn on the red because traffic is heavy from that driver’s left as it passes through on a green light.
- The pedestrian light changes to a ‘Walk’ signal and the light turns green for drivers heading in the same direction.
- The impatient driver wanting to make a right turn decides to ‘beat’ the pedestrians who are stepping off the curb by making their right turn in front of the pedestrians.
I have seen three near-accidents in the last several months resulting from impatient drivers who want to turn right while pedestrians are simultaneously stepping off the curb without making sure the driver beside is going to wait for them to cross before making his or her right turn. This is an entirely avoidable accident situation, as both the driver and pedestrians are stopped and have time to assess the situation before the light changes to a ‘Walk’ signal for the pedestrian and a green light for the driver.
As a pedestrian at these high traffic intersections, I make sure that traffic– in particular, any car beside me wanting to turn right-is stopped before I walk. And for drivers in this situation, there is every good reason to wait another 20 seconds, at least, to ensure pedestrians are clear before you make your right turn.
If all involved at high-traffic intersections exercise some patience and take responsibility for watching out for each other, accidents can be completely avoided.