EDITORIAL: Is it poor visibility or lack of vision?

We bring you yet another story this week about a driver striking pedestrians in the crosswalk of an intersection. This time, it was a man who couldn’t wait for two people to cross Third Street at Bewicke Avenue. They went to hospital, thankfully with minor injuries. He got a $167 ticket.

But inevitably, whenever we publish stories like this, the response on the letters page and online is people demanding to know why the victims didn’t better protect themselves, and making excuses for the driver:  It was dark. It was raining. The pedestrians were dressed like Johnny Cash. They didn’t make eye contact with the driver.

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Somewhere between driver’s ed and the umpteenth story of the winter about a driver striking a pedestrian or cyclist, we’ve lost the plot. The responsibility always belongs to the person licensed to be behind the wheel.

If you can’t see a person in a crosswalk due to poor visibility, then you are driving too fast for the conditions and/or the crosswalk is inadequately lit. Neither of those things are the fault of the victim.

There is a movement around the world to reduce pedestrian and cyclist fatalities to an acceptable round number: zero.

The Vision Zero goal is not to have people dressed like strobe lights but to ensure road users of all kinds are protected by their city’s basic infrastructure. A walk through many North Shore neighbourhoods, with their lack of sidewalks and streets as dimly lit as a romantic dinner, will reveal how little consideration for pedestrians has gone into our planning.

Let 2020 be the year we finally stop blaming poor visibility and get our collective vision checked.

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