A fashion designer and a psychologist are hoping to reduce traffic accidents by making pedestrians more visible at night.
- Map details 16 years of Calgary pedestrian-vehicle collisions
- 'Our family is broken,' says husband of woman killed in crosswalk
Sydney Shepard, creator of SHINE by Illuminate Designs, has stowed seven reflective sashes at seven busy Vancouver intersections.
Chip Scialfa, who has made a career out of studying human perception and driving, plans to do the same starting Monday at two Calgary crosswalks.
"It's really visibility that's the problem for pedestrians. If they can't be seen, they can't be avoided," said Scialfa, who is often called to court as an expert witness in cases involving collisions.
While he doesn't dismiss the fact that many pedestrian-vehicle accidents are the result of reckless, drunk or distracted drivers, Scialfa says even the most vigilant driver could hit someone wearing dark clothing.
"Even someone who is doing their best to be safe is not going to be able to see a darkly-clad pedestrian in many situations in time to stop."
Scialfa will wrap the reflective sashes around light poles at two Calgary intersections — 17th Avenue and Fourth Street S.W. and 6453 Macleod Trail S.W.
The hope is that pedestrians will throw one on before crossing, and once they've made it safely to the other side, take it off and rewrap it to the pole.
Shepard, who launched the reflective sash experiment in Vancouver last month, has been selling illuminating fashion accessories online for several years.
The Vancouver fashion designer got the idea after seeing what she felt was a spike in pedestrian-vehicle collisions in her city.
"I just couldn't understand why until I recognized that I was walking around the city all in black and that motorist just couldn't see me. Especially with the rain."
But when Shepard went looking for something reflective to wear with her everyday clothing, she says the selection was "ugly."
"Everything is very neon and looks like the safety work wear, or it's the athletic or cycling wear. And it's also very expensive because it's always attached to a larger piece, like a jacket. You can't remove it, you can't add it."
Shepard decided to create her own designs and sells straps, belts, cuffs, flower pins and bands you can wrap around your arms or boots.