Pedestrian safety under scrutiny

A minor collision in downtown Red Deer on Friday has raised concerns about whether or not the city needs to make changes to protect pedestrians. Just after lunch, a 13-year-old boy suffered minor injuries after a car struck him and his bike while he was attempting to cross 49th Avenue at 46th Street.

Firemedics check out a boy’s minor injuries after he struck by a car while crossing 49th Avenue at 46th Street Friday afternoon.

Firemedics check out a boy’s minor injuries after he struck by a car while crossing 49th Avenue at 46th Street Friday afternoon.

A minor collision in downtown Red Deer on Friday has raised concerns about whether or not the city needs to make changes to protect pedestrians.

Just after lunch, a 13-year-old boy suffered minor injuries after a car struck him and his bike while he was attempting to cross 49th Avenue at 46th Street.

Employees for a mortgage company located on the corner describe the intersection as an accident waiting for a place to happen, with numerous near misses on a daily basis.

It’s a wide street with four lanes of traffic, and even if one car stops others will continue through, said office worker Carissa Woolsey.

She was shocked to see that, after the boy was hit, vehicles in the other lanes continued through the intersection without slowing down.

“I walk through that intersection at least four times a day and people don’t stop,” she said.

Const. Shaun Marchand, a media liaison officer for the Red Deer City RCMP, said the intersection does not stand out as a high collision area.

However, there are no lights to control traffic at that particular intersection, which may contribute to problems pedestrians hav when they attempt to cross 49th Avenue, said Marchand.

Those problems could be avoided if pedestrians could trigger a walk light when they need to cross, he said.

At about the same time as police were investigating the collision, City Councillor Gail Park was investigating the crossing at 52nd Avenue and Alexander Way. Parks was following up on a complaint that the lights there do not give people enough time to cross if they are unable to walk at a normal speed.

She tried the crossing herself and confirmed that it would be impossible for a person using a walker or otherwise encumbered to cross in time.

Parks said her investigations on Friday revealed that there are a number of pedestrian crossings in Red Deer where people have difficulty crossing safely and that the issue is further compounded because the city appears not to have an anti-jaywalking bylaw.

While she ran out of time to talk to city engineering staff on Friday afternoon, Parks said she plans to delve more deeply into the issue next week and determine what the city needs to do to solve problems that may exist.

After what she has already seen for herself, Parks said the issue is too urgnet to hold off until municipal elections have been held and a new council takes charge.

She plans to tour some of the busier crossings with someone from the engineering staff on Monday, research existing bylaws and determine what action, if any, needs to be taken.

It may be as simple as launching an education campaign or it may require some changes in city bylaws, said Parks. At the least, a traffic study needs to be done with a focus on pedestrians to see whether or not the City of Red Deer is doing everything it can to keep people safe, she said.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com