Walking has become 'dangerous,' say parents in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's

For some parents in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, a pleasant stroll around town is the furthest thing from reality.

Pedestrian safety group complains about narrow roads, and fast drivers

A vehicle that had been travelling toward the ferry in Portugal Cove struck this red car, as it was attempting to turn into a convenience store parking lot on May 19. (Reuben Hennebury)

For some parents in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, a pleasant stroll around town is the furthest thing from reality. 

They just don't feel safe walking — and want changes.

A group of parents has organized to get those changes made, but they're frustrated over what they see as inaction. 

Wendy Reid Fairhurst, who lives in the town, is a member of Safe PCSP, a grassroots safety group for pedestrians. 

Reid Fairhurst says walking has become dangerous. Speeds are high, roads are narrow and winding, with narrow shoulders, and they're not designed for the volume of traffic. 

So, when she goes out with the kids, Reid Fairhurst resorts to desperate measures.

"I usually make my older son walk in the bottom of the ditch, which he thinks is fun at the moment," she told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

Reuben Hennebury is also a member of Safe PCSP. 

He's concerned about a busy section of Portugal Cove Road that has two convenience stores, two daycare centres, the Royal Canadian Legion and a health centre. 

Reuben Hennebury and Wendy Reid Fairhurst are members of Safe PCSP. (Cecil Haire/CBC)

Hennebury said a crash in the area two weeks ago suggests it's only a matter of time before someone is killed.

"This is an area where it's common for people to be walking by. So it would have been a very tragic outcome for anyone in that particular area, at that time," he said.  

Hennebury said the group is frustrated because it can't get the province, which owns the main road, to act. 

The town council of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's shares in that frustration. 

"Coming to an agreement with the province has been difficult. We've been told [by the department of transportation and works] upfront, the roads are for automobiles, not people," said Deputy Mayor Gavin Will.

"And they won't do anything serious about helping us separate pedestrians from the flow of traffic on the main roads."  

Will said the town has installed signs telling drivers how fast they are going, and will be putting sidewalks around a new school on Thorburn Road, but added it's too expensive for the town to do anything major without the province's financial help.

This collision took place on May 19 in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's. (Reuben Hennebury)