Calgary

Calgary councillor's wristbands urge pedestrians to be more aware

Sporting a wristband with the slogan "Head up, device down," Ward Sutherland is on a mission to raise awareness and reintroduce education into schools about pedestrian safety at crosswalks.

Nenshi says 'we have to make sure [distracted walking is] a serious problem before we regulate it'

According to a survey by Insights West, 66 per cent of Canadians would be in support of local legislation banning the use of a mobile device while pedestrians are in roadways. (Ben Margot/Associated Press)

A new poll suggests two-thirds of Canadians would support a law on distracted walking, and many Calgarians including one Calgary councillor seem to support the idea in principle.

Sporting a wristband with the slogan "Head up, device down," Ward Sutherland is on a mission to raise awareness and reintroduce education into schools about pedestrian safety at crosswalks.

The electronic devices light up in the dark and are a special initiative by Sutherland.

Now he's handing them out to students and others to emphasize that street safety is the shared responsibility of both driver and pedestrian — something he says we've forgotten.

"Now it's, 'Look at your device, focus on that, and as long as that crosswalk is there, I'm not even gonna look if a car's coming or not,'" he told CBC Calgary News at 6.

"In fact, the police will tell you ... that even if you cross at a crosswalk, if it's not safe, you can actually still be charged, because you do have responsibilities," said Sutherland, who sits on the city's police commission.

Ward Sutherland's wristband initiative aims to increase pedestrian awareness

CBC News Calgary

5 years ago
3:09
A new poll suggests two-thirds of Canadians would support a law on distracted walking, and many Calgarians including one Calgary councillor seem to agree with the idea. 3:09

Sutherland said schools are on board with the education initiative, and soon police will begin tracking statistics on accidents and fatalities related to distracted crossing. 

"We just want people to be aware," he said, adding that he isn't advocating that police blitz the streets, ticketing distracted walkers and others who cross unsafely. 

Earlier this spring, Calgary adopted a new pedestrian strategy, and one of its 50 bullet points is to look at safer crosswalk options and boost public education efforts around safe crossing.

Some cities, including Toronto and Vancouver, have already indicated interest or tried to put a ban in place.

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said he will need more convincing before implementing any change to the current bylaws.

"We're always open to these things, to looking at this, but to my mind we have to make sure it's a serious problem before we regulate it," Nenshi said.


With files from CBC Calgary News at 6

With files from Dan McGarvey

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