How often have you been driving home after dark in Squamish and suddenly seen a pedestrian or cyclist clad all in black suddenly appear in your headlights? It is terrifying for both the driver and the person who almost had their worst day.
Vehicles are the agents that cause injury and death to pedestrians, there is no arguing that.
But just as it is unfair, but prudent, for a woman to take more precautions against pregnancy than a man —when it comes right down to it, she will be carrying the child after all — pedestrians and cyclists need to ensure they can be seen by the drivers behind their two-tonne machines.
Earlier this month, The Canadian Press reported on outrage sparked online in Toronto when municipal officials distributed reflective armbands to seniors.
(Reflectors have been distributed in Squamish to seniors as well, it should be noted, such as by the Squamish RCMP in October at The 55 Activity Centre.)
Some of the anger was justifiable since the councillor who was photographed handing out the armbands had opposed lower speed limits.
Thus, the armbands were seen as victim-blaming. A bit like handing out birth control pills to women while opposing men having to pay child support.
But if our goal is to reduce the number of people hit and killed by vehicles, let’s deal with facts.
If riders and walkers can be seen, they are less likely to be hit.
According to ICBC, nearly half of all crashes with pedestrians happen between October and January, when it is dark and often rainy in our area.
Wearing black after dark though is never a good idea, as a past local tragedy has demonstrated.
The death of the 29-year-old pedestrian struck by an off-duty officer while crossing at an intersection on Highway 99 and Garibaldi Way in March of 2018 is case in point.
“[The pedestrian] made a tragic error when he crossed the highway, against the traffic signal, on a dark and rainy night, in dark clothing.”
Of course, the municipality should brighten our streets as much as they can and make sure connector trails are well lit enough that people feel safe using them by foot or bike.
[More sidewalks and dedicated bike paths throughout town would help too — just saying, council.]
But come on, walkers and riders. Unless you are a cat burglar trying not to be seen, put on a reflective vest and some lights. And that goes for your pooch too.
This won’t prevent all accidents, but at least it gives you better odds.
And drivers, there is likely no worse feeling than the thud of someone hitting your vehicle, so focus, put away the phone and watch for those not protected by metal and rubber.
Let’s all come out of this dark Squamish winter unscathed.