Comment 115652

By AK (registered) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 23:55:23

Hi Aidan, You’ve been a great advocate for safe streets so this isn't directed to you but I’m furious. On November 29 a man was killed walking on the sidewalk at Main and Hess. I can’t find out his name. On December 2, Jay Keddy was killed biking up the Claremont Access. On December 11, Mara Balach was killed walking across a crosswalk on Queenston Rd. This is an epidemic. Yet these stories barely make the news – do you even know the name of the first individual? How many officers are investigating Mr. Keddy’s accident?

Maybe part if the reason for the silence is the mistaken notion that there are pure accidents, some sort of random inevitable occurrence, or singular events caused by bad or drunk drivers. In fact, what they are is a product of our community which does not care about pedestrians and cyclists. These are marginalized people, elderly and children, often.

Also, we seem to empathize with the drivers, not the victims. We’ve all been behind the wheel and almost been part of a horrible accident. We understand that it’s not a problem of bad drivers, because it is insane to be allowed to race through residential areas, which people regularly do in front of my house on Herkimer. Yet when people call for change, the naysayers claim ‘we need to know the facts’ of the accident before rushing to judgment. It was probably dark clothing, or the victim was at fault, or maybe even it was the driver, in which case was he drunk? We don’t ask our traffic department to study the intersection. In fact, when a neighbourhood group managed to implement speed calming on a tiny neighbourhood, council passed a 5-year moratorium on any other street calming efforts.

I walk to work every day. I know that more often than not, a car turning from a one-way street to another one way street will not look both ways to see if a pedestrian is walking counter to traffic. If I’m walking north on Queen across Herkimer, the majority of cars turning right from Herkimer across that deadly intersection (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/police-looking-for-witnesses-in-hamilton-hit-and-run-1.2569425 - no name I could find of victim or driver) will not look southward to see if pedestrians are crossing. I can literally knock on the windows of the average driver before they turn to look at me. Most of them wave sheepishly, sorry, my bad. I get it. We designed that intersection that way, and we are conditioned as drivers that endangering pedestrian lives is not really that big of a deal.

I’d like to see some anger on this issue. I’d like to see some opposition to Terry Whitehead that isn’t ‘oh gee Terry that’s a goofy motion’. This is past ignorance, past recklessness, and past negligence. I’ll be blunt: opposition to safe streets because of the effects on traffic flow very likely contributed to the deaths of Jay Keddy and Mara Balach. The only reason it's not criminal negligence is that the reasonable man on the Hamilton omnibus is driving his Escape at 60 kph up Bay Street past Central School.

I'd like a task force or inquiry, not run out of the traffic department or police, to study these deaths and determine how much each was contributed to by: weather, road conditions, driver, victim, etc etc. One of the factors would be 'social conditioning' and another would be 'street design'. Let's recognize and remember these victims by accepting our own culpability as a city and community.

Yours sincerely, AK

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