Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Small boy hit in crosswalk

Yesterday (Feb 23), a small boy was hit in a crosswalk in north Edmonton. The crossing is here: https://www.google.ca/maps/@53.5767253,-113.4778882,3a,75y,256.05h,82.15t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s-5R_TWqesuTIRNH_CvYZow!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en. I want to see (not literally) what happened, why, and how this crash can be prevented again, and even who is responsible for this crash.

First, the small boy is a 7 year old child (unless his birthday is today. Someone in that case got him a nasty present). This means that there should be no expectation that he would behave perfectly. But the driver is legally responsible for the crash, due to speeding, 50 km/h during a school zone when said zone is active, when the limit is 30, and failure to yield. The daily volume in 2013 was around 5500 vehicles per day, peak hourly volume is around 500 vehicles per hour. The roadway at that cross section is around 21 metres of width. There is a parking lane on either side, a sidewalk on both sides of the road and 2 lanes for general purpose traffic.

But the roadway didn't do anything to help correct or minimize the chance of a mistake or reduce the impact, literally in this case, of the mistake. Absolutely nothing. There were flashing lights and a marked crossing, but that didn't really help. Zebra stripes on the crossing would have made it a bit better, but this is still a poorly designed roadway.

To see how this crossing could be a much better crossing and bring it up to sustainable safety principles, let's come up with a new plan for this road. 21 metres is by every measure plenty to have cycle tracks, median refuges, good buffers and plenty of speed calming. This is a school zone, a place where children in high volume use. What kind of person could possibly believe that motor vehicles should take priority here?

https://www.google.ca/maps/@53.5767253,-113.4778882,3a,75y,256.05h,82.15t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s-5R_TWqesuTIRNH_CvYZow!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en is my proposed cross section. The motor vehicle lane is actually 2.8 metres wide each way, but I added a bit of optical narrowing. There is a 2.4 metre wide median refuge, and 1.8 metre wide refuges between cycle track and roadway, enough for a disability buggy to wait if needed. 2.5 metre wide cycle tracks each way, and 2.2 metre wide sidewalks each.

The intersections will be on raised tables, and because 122 is a distributor by Dutch road hierarchy standards, it will have priority over side roads with the gateway profile. Corner radii will be sharpened, bus stop bypasses will be built and separation of dangerous differences in masses, speeds and directions will be implemented. The angle at which you approach the median refuge will need to be sharp enough to lower speeds down to 30 km/h. The permanent speed limit would be 30 km/h, as would the design speed.

I know that motor vehicle drivers will have it slightly less easy, but again, what kind of parent, human being or traffic engineer would prioritize cars over people's, children's safety? That boy would very likely not be in the hospital if this Dutch road design was truly implemented.

Council, residents who oppose this sort of infrastructure, traffic engineers who oppose these and others who block improvements like this are guilty, in addition to the driver who was actually controlling the car. You have blood on your hands. You are also liable, because it's been known for a long time, and a number of people have pointed our how big of a mistake it is to rely on drivers to know what they're doing and obey every single law 100% of the time, and nothing you did has prevented this collision. This boy very well may have a disability for the rest of his life as a result of this crash. If he does, then are you going to push his wheelchair around for the rest of his life? He also may have a phobia of cars for a long time. Helmets would not have improved this, as the crash was affecting his internal organs mainly. If the driver was distracted or drunk, how would high viz jackets have made this safer?

Strict liability could only have done something like pay for any medicines that this boy's family may need, pay for any therapy, maybe replace his backpack if it got stained, but nothing about thinking about the financial cost of a collision makes you not want to be in one. Do you really think that this boy's parents would be any more willing to let him walk around if they were financially compensated in the event of a crash?

If you are human, if you care even the slightest bit about people, if you have children, then you will understand my arguments, if you are city council, you WILL provide the improvements needed. If it costs 50 thousand, then I am willing to pay my 1/950000 share of the cost (the approximate population of the city by now).

But quite likely, this crash will be forgotten in a few days, obviously except for the people directly involved. When will people start caring. When will our Stop De Kindermoord happen? I want people to protest. I want them next week on a weekday, all of the students to come early, go into the crosswalk, into the road, sit down, play dead, obstruct traffic and not move until city council and the traffic engineers create a definitive plan for improving this road intersection, and making it safe. Not safer. Safe. Who here reading this blog or living in Edmonton, or both, is going to speak up. I will. Now who's with me?!

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