On May 25th a 61-year-old cyclist was killed on the Stanley Park Causeway. Apparently she was trying to get by a pedestrian, fell off the sidewalk, and was hit by a bus. Someone at work asked me:
“Whose fault was it – the cyclist’s or the pedestrian’s?”
That question really made me think. It was not the “fault” of the unfortunate cyclist, and I assume it was also not the “fault” of the pedestrian. The fault lies with the city planners we entrust to provide safe infrastructure for us. In this case the responsible party is the Ministry of Transportation – and they have failed in this responsibility, leading to the horrible, tragic death of a 61-year-old woman.
This death comes as no surprise to me. My own wife Maggie (Mrs. Average Joe Cyclist) had a similar accident when she was just 16 years old. I am not going to risk spousal wrath by saying exactly when that was, but suffice it to say it was more than 30 years ago.
So for at least 30 years, cyclists have had to risk their lives to cross the Lions Gate bridge.
In Maggie’s case, she was lucky – there was no bus around, and oncoming vehicles managed to avoid mowing her down.
However, getting across the Lions Gate bridge alive should NOT be a matter of luck – it should be safe, and it can only be made safe if proper infrastructure is provided.
The woman who was killed lived in North Vancouver – she did not have any choice but to use the bridge. Thousands of others are in the same situation, and should not have to risk their lives on daily basis.
It is NOT good enough to have a narrow, “shared” sidewalk, right next to a big drop down to hurtling, heavy traffic.
Every one of us – cyclists, pedestrians or drivers – occasionally has a moment when we do something unexpected, thoughtless or even slightly stupid. We all depend upon safe infrastructure so that these entirely normal, human moments do not cause our death, or the death of others.
In the light of the tragic accident on 25 May, Vancouver’s HUB (an organization working to make cycling better through education, action and events) is calling for major safety improvements along the Stanley Park Causeway.
Future tragedies can be avoided by changing this narrow “shared” path into separated paths for cyclists and pedestrians and installing safety barriers and signage to reduce conflicts between all modes.
UPDATE 25 June 2013: In May, HUB encouraged all cyclists to sign a petition to improve matters. On 25 June 2013, HUB released this good news, and call for action:
First success! Thanks to your emails & words of support at the Vancouver Park Board meeting, the Board has passed Commissioner Constance Barne’s motion to work with the Ministry of Transportation on immediate and long-term safety improvements along the Stanley Park Causeway.
We have closed the petition since the Ministry of Transportation, Vancouver Parks and City Engineering have started working together to find a solution for the safety issues along the Causeway. However, we still need the new BC Transportation Minister Todd Stone to come to the table and the Province to provide funding.
Please email Todd Stone at Minister.Transportation@gov.bc.ca and ask for his support. If you haven’t done so already, please also get in touch with your MLA (MLA Finder: http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm).
Thank you for helping make the Causeway safer and hopefully prevent another tragedy from happening.
Lisa Slakov and Heather Harvey
HUB Vancouver/UBC Committee
HUB North Shore Committee
The entry to the Dunsmuir Viaduct at the bottom of Dunsmuir Street in Vancouver shows how it SHOULD be done. It’s not rocket science: just provide clearly marked, SEPARATE spaces for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. That way, we can all commute without having to risk our lives …
In March 2015 it was announced that the Vancouver Park Board unanimously approved a plan to widen the sidewalks along the Stanley Park Causeway in order to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The new lanes will go in this year, and will look like this:
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