Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians all responsible for road safety, councillor says

Texting pedestrians, inexperienced cyclists and motorists who might not be sure that other users of the city’s roads will abide by the rules —  if they even know them. To Coun. Jon Dziadyk, they add up to accidents waiting to happen.

Coun. Jon Dziadyk wants city campaign to make sure everyone knows the rules

An Edmonton city councillor hopes a public information campaign would make sure everyone knows the rules of the road. (Jenna Reid/CBC)

Texting pedestrians and inexperienced cyclists can add to traffic stress if motorists can't be sure that all users of the city's roads will abide by the rules, says an Edmonton city councillor.

Coun. Jon Dziadyk wants to see the city ensure that all road users take responsibility for the safety of themselves and everyone else.

"Our roadways are inherently dangerous," Dziadyk told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM on Monday.

"[Inside] a car, you're more protected," he said. "And if you don't have a whole vehicle to protect you … don't make assumptions that the person operating the vehicle is going to be operating by the rules."

Pedestrians can be distracted by their cellphones, says Coun. Jon Dziadyk. (Julio Cortez/The Associated Press)

Tuesday's city council meeting is expected to include discussions of traffic safety, including a bylaw to standardize the speed limit to 40 km/h on residential roads.

The meeting will also include two motions from Dziadyk, who will seek council's support in asking city administration to look at the issues of distracted pedestrians on roads as well as appropriate cycling behaviour on shared roadways.

An education campaign about rules, roles and responsibilities — regardless of a person's preferred method of transport — is Dziadyk's hoped-for final outcome.

If the speed limits are changed, the city will have to launch a public information campaign to ensure all motorists are aware of the new laws, he said. The more general safety campaign could simply piggyback on that, he said.

"Let's also talk to other users of the roadway, just to make sure everyone feels safe … so that everyone [who is] trying to get from A to B on a road realizes that there's shared responsibility, that there's certain conduct that could prevent accidents," he said.

Statistics show that motorists are at fault in almost all collisions between vehicles and pedestrians or cyclists.

The city's 2017 annual report on motor vehicle collisions showed there were 23,906 total collisions that year, with 2,736 that resulted in injury or death. Pedestrian errors were cited as the cause in 73 of those accidents, while cyclist errors or violations were to blame in 34 cases.

The 2018 report is not yet available on the city's website.

The introduction of bike-sharing will create new users who may not be familiar with the city's network of dedicated bike lanes or the expectations of being in traffic, says Coun. Jon Dziadyk. (John Robertson/CBC)

"If there was an accident involving a car and a pedestrian, it is likely to be the car's fault," Dziadyk said. "What I want to do is just avoid the accident altogether. It's not about pointing blame here or there, it's about, 'What can we do to create the conditions where we prevent that accident from occurring in the first place.'"

He stressed that his concern goes well beyond etiquette, which he says speaks mostly to manners. Etiquette will go a long way to "normalizing" cyclist and pedestrian behaviours, he said, but safety is his biggest concern.

He said the timing is good for such a campaign, given the incoming change to speed limits, the likely arrival of bike-sharing and the start of summer.

Regular cyclists in the city are well-versed in the rules of the various types of bike paths and shared roadways, he said. Bike sharing opens the door for people — like himself, he noted — to hop on a bike, potentially without safety equipment or knowing the rules of the road.

"All our discussions around safety on roadways will be enhanced if we talk about everyone using the roadway."


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