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Letters to the editor, January 23, 2014 

These are the letters and comments from the print edition

Cross drivers

P. Ryall ("Road rage," Letters, January 16) makes a good point. I have many times seen pedestrians crossing without looking.

Two statistics are particularly interesting: 1. Most car/pedestrian accidents occur at crosswalks. This is not because nobody ever crosses in other places. It is because people who cross without a crosswalk know they are doing something dangerous and look first. 2. Most such accidents occur in bad visibility. This is not because the pedestrians can't see the cars. It is because the drivers don't see the pedestrians, particularly if they have dark clothing. Pedestrians don't have headlights. Both point directly to pedestrian inattention.

I don't deny that some of these accidents are caused by driver inattention or speeding, but it will do you no good when you are lying in the street to blame the driver. People around here seem to think that crosswalks are safe zones. Crosswalks are meant to allow pedestrians to stop traffic in order to cross. You will not be hit by stopped traffic. —A.Seaman, Halifax

Writing as a motorist as well as a pedestrian, I am getting a bit tired of reading about and listening to all the comments on crosswalk safety and the attempts to fix this problem. It can't be fixed!

As a pedestrian, I usually jaywalk, crossing in the middle of the block. Vehicles can come at me from only two directions. I feel much safer crossing this way. At crosswalks, vehicles can come at me from four directions ---double the danger. As a motorist, at intersections, I have vehicles coming at me from at least three directions. (Including those that run the lights/stop signs.)

There is so much to look out for that some things just get missed. As pointed out in another letter, traffic and pedestrian lights operate inconsistently both at different intersections and at different times of the day. Another variable one has to look out for. I do my best. So far so good. —Gordon A. Boyce, Dartmouth

Halifax pedestrians are lucky they are not killed in greater numbers. They need to learn that it's not OK to: walk across a street, crosswalk or not, without looking; wear earbuds while crossing streets so a warning honk would not be heard; press the lights to stop the traffic and expect a car to come to a halt, perhaps in icy conditions, within a couple of metres; dawdle across the road; walk one after the other across the road bringing traffic to a standstill waiting for the people to stop; make a driver, turning across traffic into a crosstown street, stop in the middle and bring the oncoming traffic to a dangerous halt as he/she just walks.

Halifax aspires to be a world city. Let its pedestrians buy into that. Instead of making themselves number one, make them see the bigger picture and even give way to a car where it will help traffic flow and certainly stop the road rage of people like me. —Shirley Gueller, Halifax

I wish that the article was about the root causes of pedestrians getting hit, rather than a technical debunking of each intersection by authors who aren't technically trained. The root problems of marginalization of pedestrians and other non-car road users could begin to be addressed by:

Get rid of flashing yellow crosswalks. Install red lights at all crosswalks---this is the only way drivers are guaranteed to stop. Think about it, why the hell do we use a flashing yellow? It makes no sense.

Mandatory minimum fines and/or sentencing for hitting pedestrians in crosswalks, cyclists in bike lanes, et cetera.

Make the fines associated with ALL traffic violations based on the VEHICLE MOMENTUM and severity of infraction. This would create an incentive for motorists to switch to lighter more efficient vehicles and slow down at the same time. That way if you run a red light in a delivery truck or bus, you will get a ticket that is proportional to the amount of damage you could have potentially done, and pedestrians/cyclists would get extremely cheap tickets, reflecting the disproportionate risk they are exposed to as road users. —posted by Tom MacDonald at


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