This week a Lynn Valley friend and I were talking about how difficult it can be to see pedestrians on these ever-darker evenings. Unfortunately, we both knew of people in years past who had been killed while out walking in the dark.
Even though pedestrians may have the ‘walk’ light and be in a crosswalk, dark clothing and/or the brightness of oncoming headlights can transpire to render walkers almost invisible until it’s too late.
A few years ago, a walker came abreast of my car while I was stopped at a stop sign. Having just driven past her (on a road that had no sidewalks), I rolled my passenger-side window down to let her know (in the nicest of terms!) that she really was invisible, and to please take care while she’s out walking. Unfortunately, her response was to chew my head off! My well-intentioned concern had obviously missed the mark, but still I hope she remembered what I said the next time she went out after daylight hours.
Pedestrians simply can’t expect their visibility to be a driver-only responsibility. The most cautious and alert of drivers can fail to see someone who has chosen to dress in all-black ninja garb. And when that someone chooses to dash across the street mid-block rather than use a crosswalk, the chances of an unfortunate collision are even greater.
Of course, many kids think they’re ‘too cool’ to wear reflective clothing, and many adults think they’re exempt because they’re careful to only cross at marked crossings and they stay well to the side of the road. But as RCMP Cpl. Richard De Jong noted in today’s press release – which described three North Van pedestrian accidents that took place in a two-hour span! – all three incidents occurred while the pedestrian was in a marked crossing.
Share this news with your kids, and take it to heart yourself – whether you’re the walker or the driver. When you’re driving your children somewhere in the evening, point out to them how difficult it is to see those pedestrians who are clad in dark clothing compared to those who have dressed with visibility in mind.
Get in the habit of wearing a light-coloured coat, carry a small flashlight, wear clothing with reflective strips built in, and PLEASE remember not to assume that you are easily seen at night time. If you’re being responsible and walking home after an evening at the pub, be extra cautious navigating the streets. Drivers, take that extra moment to search out potential pedestrians, especially when you’re turning left over a crosswalk.
Let’s work together to make sure that all our LynnValleyites get home safely this winter season. A person’s life can change tragically in an instant. Taking a few minutes to search out a flashlight before your walk is well worth the time.
– Peggy Trendell-Jensen, editor