I sincerely hope the 14-year-old girl who suffered minor injuries while crossing the intersection of Bow Valley Trail and Railway Avenue on her bicycle last month is recovering from her physical and any mental trauma from the incident. I also hope that this collision won’t prevent her or others from using a bicycle as a means of transport.
I felt compelled to respond to this article, as I have had at least five near-misses in which I was almost struck by a person driving a vehicle at this same intersection over the past year. It’s happened so many times, I have lost track of the exact number.
In each situation, the circumstances were the same: it was the middle of the day (no sun-glare); I was proceeding through the crosswalk during the walk phase; I was walking my bicycle, pulling my two children in the tow-behind chariot trailer; I was trying to make eye-contact with all drivers in the intersection; I was wearing a fluorescent vest, and the chariot had a fluorescent flag and fluorescent tape to make us more visible.
In each circumstance, we were almost struck by driver rushing to make either a right-hand or left-hand turn.
After one near-miss last summer, I called the RCMP to ask if they could please monitor this intersection for unsafe turns by vehicles – hoping some enforcement might help change driver behaviour. I was told that they received many complaints about that intersection, but there was nothing they could do.
I’ve loved moving around through daily life on a bicycle my entire life. I love teaching my children the joys of active transportation, and the many benefits it has for our health, and the health and well-being of our community. This includes reducing traffic congestion for those who need to drive, and contributing towards our community Climate Action Plan.
In order to achieve our community goals to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, we need more in-town trips to be by people walking and on bicycle. To achieve this, we need these modes of transportation to be safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities.
Traffic safety requires three key pieces: respectful and attentive drivers, cautious cyclists and pedestrians, and quality infrastructure.
People driving: Please stop and look carefully before making a right- or left-hand turn at any intersection. Do not proceed until people walking or on bicycle have cleared the entire intersection, as required by law. The safety of those walking and cycling is in drivers’ hands – if a driver makes an error, it is the person walking or cycling who is injured, not the driver.
People walking and cycling: Please follow the rules of the road and be courteous to all users.
Town of Canmore: As planned for this intersection where the collision occurred, please change the phase signalling as soon as possible so no right- or left-hand turns are permitted during the walk phase for pedestrians. Please re-apply paint to depict the stop lines, so fewer vehicles stop straddling the crosswalks.
I am hopeful that the completion of this project will result in an intersection that is safe and efficient for people walking, riding and driving. Continue your good efforts to expand the network of walking and cycling paths.
By all working together, we have the best chance of keeping one another safe.