Viewpoint: Traffic bad but driver safety worse

We all agree that it is a relief to come to, or be born in, a small town with fewer cars and a cleaner environment. However, over the course of the last few years all of this has, and is, changing. Read the statistics for the area. We have far more cars per household than anyone really needs.

Crossing the street of a larger city such as Vancouver or Victoria is becoming more perilous. For many city dwellers, especially the disabled and seniors, it takes time to cross a busy street. A number of people have been killed. The time it takes to get across any street varies from person to person and place to place. It varies with the weather. It varies with traffic mood and flow.

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So, I've been timing local crosswalks and lights by just counting to 10. The crosswalk at Joyce Avenue and Barnet Street is particularly quick. Sometimes it is under five seconds between the orange and white signs indicating walk or stop. Are we to fly across the street?

Why are all cars of the speed-up-fast-to-get-through-the-traffic-light type so fond of that corner? In the heat, people who walk go slower; people who drive speed up. This is an observable fact.

Being considerate of others when driving is a mandatory, unwritten rule of the road; or, it needs to be.

When I was nearly mowed down by a young woman driving a car heading straight towards me, I thought of this rule. Thankfully, another driver shouted out his car window at her, "Who taught you how to drive?"

Did she not like my hat? Was she just in a heated discussion with the man sitting by her side? Did she need glasses? Well, no one will ever know the answer to all of those questions that flashed through my brain. Perhaps she was just a learner who didn't want to acknowledge lights. But, really, is it not bad to run an older woman down? It would have been a messy sight if she had, and she would have regretted her actions all of her life. The hat would have been ruined.

Later, as I proceeded to Town Centre Mall, I saw another set of wheels coming towards me. This driver was precariously angling down a curb to cross the Town Centre Hotel's parking lot on Barnet; a busy spot. She could have lurched over onto the pavement. So, I put my hands out in front of me to warn her of her circumstances. I did not want to see her splayed across the road and badly injured by an oncoming car.

I'm wary and cautious having lived in big cities. I don't like what I see developing here. Joyce is not a nice road to walk or bike along now. Powell River needs a few "go slow" signs posted directly across from people making a left turn.

Perhaps I should stand there one day in a turtle costume, or a bunch of us should. There are slower young drivers and faster old ones. This is not really to do with age. It is more about being part of a larger environment than your own limited sphere.

Elizabeth Horsfield is a Westview resident.

Copyright © 2017 Powell River Peak

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