This year alone 10 pedestrians were struck by vehicles in Prince Rupert, six of them were on crosswalks along Second Avenue West, Prince Rupert RCMP confirmed.
Two of the incidents happened a week ago on Friday, Nov. 17. One of the accidents was on McBride Street and resulted in the death of a 67-year-old man, the other was on the crosswalk between Second Avenue West and Third Street. Both of these streets are on the arterial highway that runs through the city and is the responsibility of the provincial government.
Earlier this year, a pedestrian was struck by a police vehicle at a crosswalk at Second Avenue West near Ninth Street in March. The man was sent to the Kitimat General Hospital and later released.
In 2016 and 2015, Prince Rupert RCMP said there were a total of six pedestrians who were struck by vehicles.
The ministry said that in 2013 a pedestrian controlled signal at McBride and Ninth Avenue was installed to provide safer crossing, however, this was where last Friday’s incident occurred.
“Our thoughts are with those affected by the crosswalk incidents in Prince Rupert, ” said ministry of transportation and infrastructure spokesperson, Danielle Pope, in an email. The ministry said it reviews its roads and highways consistently to see where safety can be improved.
This section of Highway 16 was also resurfaced and painted in 2017, and the ministry said this was “to provide a reflective crosswalk and clear line delineation along the route. During this time of year, Prince Rupert and other coastal communities can experience reduced visibility due to heavy precipitation and shorter days.”
Poor visibility along Second Avenue West, and many other streets in Prince Rupert, is something that Chris Lightfoot is examining through the Complete Streets For Prince Rupert initiative. On Nov. 20, he posted that the group is crowdsourcing to learn from residents about the most dangerous spots around the city to walk, ride or drive.
Once they’ve accumulated enough information, Complete Streets plans to create a map and present to city council to prioritize change.
“What we’re advocating for are their tried and tested ways to reduce pedestrian-related collisions. Those aren’t campaigns to influence behaviour through education but the best way to reduce these crashes is actually changing the ways our streets are designed. Changing the built environment in ways that slow vehicles, improve visibility and separate modes of travel, for example, sidewalks and separated bike paths,” Lightfoot said.
Some of the hot spots people have flagged include 11th Avenue East and Prince Rupert Boulevard, Sixth Avenue East and Hays Cove and Dry Dock Road near PJ’s Midway Store and Second Avenue West and Third Street. Lightfoot said the group is reaching out to both the ministry and the city to improve their streets.
“Some of these changes are simple to make and don’t require a lot of money. Simple modification our streets include curb extensions, road diets, a lot of simple things that can be done cheaply that can make crossing the street a lot safer for everyone,” he said.
The City of Prince Rupert communications manager, Veronika Stewart, said they don’t plan on doing any major changes.
“We’ve replaced all our lightings with high efficiency lighting in 2013,” Stewart said, adding that city streets have different lighting than the highway. The city also repaints its crosswalks once a year.
While the ministry’s response included an advisory for drivers and pedestrians to be more aware at crossings, Lightfoot said Complete Streets is about improving the infrastructure and not changing behaviours.
Complete Streets is a vision that extends nation wide. A group of concerned residents and volunteers in Prince Rupert have taken the concept and are advocating for ways to improve their streets to be safer for all.
Map by Keili Bartlett