Plante: Resolve to slow down and drive safely in 2024

Last year was the deadliest for pedestrians in Ottawa, with 23 vehicle collisions, 11 of which were fatal.

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During the 2023 race weekend, my team organized a ‘animation station at the intersection of Beechwood and Springfield avenues, around 30 kilometers of the marathon. Knowing that the runners would get tired and that the morning was already very hot, we played loud music, handed out water, and high-fived participants as they passed by.

A car stopped at the intersection. Despite seeing that the road was closed, he began to advance little by little towards the corridors. We watched in horror as a police officer and other volunteers began yelling at the driver to stop. He finally rolled down the window and shouted: “Open the street! I’m late for lunch! Within two minutes, the main group of runners passed and she was escorted safely through the intersection.

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This interaction is one of many close calls or dangerous calls that I witness or read about in my inbox at least once a week.

Drivers turn right on red lights and don’t look to the right because they don’t come to a complete stop. Cars park in bike lanes to run a “quick” errand, forcing cyclists to ride unprotected on busy streets. Drivers drive through residential neighborhoods to avoid rush hour congestion, overwhelming roads, often near schools, that are not built to handle that kind of traffic.

I was hit by a car while riding my bike at ByWard Market in August and I fractured my wrist.

Even US President Joe Biden’s administration recently received more than 100,000 comments regarding pedestrian safety in recent changes to federal traffic regulations.

In search of solutions, in November I held a traffic calming open house at a community center in Vanier with City of Ottawa Traffic Services staff. Just hours before our event, a woman crossing Montreal Road was tragically murdered
Perhaps because of this, or other incidents in the city center, I received over 200 comments and suggestions on where to calm traffic in 2024.

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Despite all the Red light and speed cameras.awareness campaigns and action plan2023 was the deadliest year for pedestrians in Ottawa, with 23 vehicle collisions, 11 of which were fatal. Back in 2024, a pedestrian was hit and killed in a collision near the intersection of Bank Street and Heron Road.

It’s even scarier if you live in the suburbs, since the deadliest accidents it happened outside the core. The statistics are so alarming that Ottawa police had to issue a statement ask people not to drink and drive or drive distracted.

Ottawa Safety Council reports most fatal collisions occur during rush hour and they are 90 percent preventable. Having street parking narrows the street, which makes drivers go slower. Add trees to the right of way reduces speeds and increases our tree canopy.

Quebec is introducing a maximum of 30 kilometers per hour Around schools and many Ottawa neighborhoods have done the same. The city of Paris will launch 200 school streets as part of their pedestrian safety plans.

These are all good starts, but we all need to collectively remember that our cars aren’t just for transportation. They can inflict damage and harm that can alter the course of a person and their family forever.

Since we’re in the season of resolutions, I have a few that I implore drivers in the National Capital Region to make and keep in 2024. Slow down. Don’t be the brunch lady. Put away your phone. Get a rideshare. Take public transportation. Walk or ride a bike. You will never regret having arrived safely at your destination.

Stéphanie Plante is a Rideau-Vanier Ward councilor on the Ottawa City Council

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