Run Walk Ride for Vision Zero drives safety message home
The event occurred less than 24 hours after a pedestrian was killed in west Edmonton at a marked crosswalk.
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Lauren Styles knows all too well what it’s like to lose a friend to a preventable collision.
She says the loss of her friend Dave Finkelman in 2014 prompted her to run in the Run Walk Ride for Vision Zero on Sunday, to raise awareness how important it is for both motorists and pedestrians to pay attention while on the road.
“To lose someone in such a senseless fashion is just horrible,” Styles said.
“I think Edmonton has really unsafe roads for pedestrians and cyclists. I don’t think there’s a lot of consideration – it’s a very driver-centric city,” she added. “So we have to get drivers who are considering the other people using the roadways.”
She was joined by her father Craig for the civic event, which ran for the second year at the Concordia University of Edmonton. Vision Zero is a city initiative with a long-term goal of reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero.
“It’s an awareness for everybody that these things happen and it can happen to someone very close to you,” he said. “It’s not always the person you don’t know.”
The event took place less than 24 hours after a motorist driving an SUV struck and killed a 57-year-old woman and her dog at a crosswalk in the city’s west end.
Ward 3 Coun. Dave Loken offered his condolences to the family and said the incident was an unfortunate reminder for why initiatives like Vision Zero are needed.
“It reinforces what we’re trying to educate people on,” he said. “Slow down, know your surroundings, concentrate what you’re doing behind the wheel and I think we can avoid tragic accidents like that.”
He added that the city has more work to do in making neighbourhoods safer, which is why they’re currently debating reducing residential speed limits to 30.
“There’s still a terrible problem with speeding in our neighbourhoods,” Loken said.
Gerry Shimko, executive director of Edmonton's office of traffic safety, said the complexity of driving has gone up due to drivers’ multitasking. He said motorists need to avoid activities such as texting, and emphasized the importance of shared responsibility for both motorists and pedestrians.
“We have to be a lot more vigilant and try and reduce driver workload as much as possible,” he said.
Event organizer Laura Thule said the event was a success, with about 130 participants, and hopes it will generate more dialogue on the importance of traffics safety.
“People die on our roads every year. And we can all be a part in preventing those deaths.”