I hope everyone is having a good safe summer. I worked for the Ministry of Transportation and Highways for a number of years,where one of my duties was to be a member of the Ministry Health and Safety Committee. The City of Nelson has a program to improve sidewalks, roads and intersection safety, but it also takes the participation of the public to be aware on the streets, roads and railway crossings in and around Nelson.
As I travel around the city, I notice a number of drivers who do a rolling pass at the stop signs, which could result in a serious accident. Many drivers travel too fast on city streets and may not be fully aware of pedestrians, bikes and slower drivers.
Pedestrians could also be more aware when crossing streets, sidewalk and railway crossings, looking both ways and wear visible clothing at night. It has been recently noted in the media that a number of people have headphones on, listening to music or texting on their smart phones, so that they do not hear sounds around them and aren’t aware of the traffic. A few people around the province have been injured or killed walking along railway tracks or crossing roads in front of oncoming traffic. People need to pay attention at railway crossings as well.
In July, at the Rotary Lakeside Park railway crossing I saw two women run across the railway tracks about one minute in front of an oncoming train, not a smart idea if they tripped and fell.
I just recently volunteered on the MS West Kootenay Bike Ride around the glacier and most of the bike riders put on the flashing light on their bikes which was supplied by the MS organizing committee. People that ride road (pedal) bikes do not realize how difficult it is for drivers to see them on a dark day or in the shade on a sunny day especially if they wear dark clothing. Drivers need to be aware of road bike riders as well, and bike riders need to ride single file and close to the road shoulder. Safety on sidewalk crossings, streets, roads and railway crossing takes the participation of everyone from pedestrians, pedal bikes, motor bikes and vehicle operators. A young driver’s vehicle was clipped by an oncoming train at a railway crossing in the Lower Mainland because, it was speculated, that he had the music so loud in his vehicle he didn’t hear the train operator blow the whistle.
I also volunteer as an operator on the Streetcar for the Nelson Electric Tramway Society. Operating the Streetcar through the Chahko Mika Mall parking lot can be challenging. Pedestrians and vehicle drivers should be aware that the streetcar, even in top mechanical shape, cannot stop as fast as a modern road vehicle.
In September, local schools will be back in session along with increased enforcement of playground and school zones speed limits. I have always contended that our local playground and school zones could be better marked to allow vehicle drivers to be more aware of these areas when the students returning to school and are crossing the crosswalks. Drivers need to be aware of the speed limits for safety of students, as well, if caught speeding, the result comes with a serious fine. Winter will be back in a few of months which adds more challenges on the city streets and roads.
So again I hope people have a safe summer, fall and winter in and around Nelson. When I worked for Ministry of Transportation and Highways, the ministry had a saying, “safety first” as a consideration for all work, whether in the office or out in the field. Fortunately we had not had many serious incidents in and around Nelson. It pays to be safety aware in more ways than one, while walking, pedaling or operating a motor vehicle.
Robin Cherbo is a Nelson city councillor who shares this space with his colleagues around the table.