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Walking on the edge in Ottawa

Somebody has left flowers on the spot where Leo Paul and SherrianneRegnier were killed, stupidly, randomly mowed down Sept. 16 by amotorist, as they waited on the sidewalk for a bus.

Somebody has left flowers on the spot where Leo Paul and Sherrianne Regnier were killed, stupidly, randomly mowed down Sept. 16 by a motorist, as they waited on the sidewalk for a bus.

We were horrified by these senseless deaths that came out of nowhere, orphaning the Regniers’ three daughters, and chilled that it could have happened to almost anyone.

We see too many bouquets and teddy bears on the pavement, and ghost bikes, too, the white-painted reminders erected where cyclists are killed in traffic.
Any number is too many, but between 2004 and 2009, 1,600 pedestrians were hit by vehicles here. At an average of 267 a year, impacts of metal on bone are uncomfortably close to a daily occurrence. Some are fatal, some crippling, some lucky. Most are avoidable.

In a way, it’s surprising there isn’t more of this, since shockingly bad driving is hardly a rare sight in the city.

Last week alone I saw two cars T-bone each other at an intersection with traffic lights, watched a car swerve to avoid the van that was in his way as he illegally crossed O’Conner at Cooper, and observed the not-terribly smart driver of a Smart car weaving through traffic while jabbering on her cellphone.

And not all the dummies are behind the wheel. Also in the past week, I’ve counted my own not-infrequent jaywalking when I think the coast is clear. Pedestrians are too often anesthetised by ear buds and stupefied by cellphones.

You will even see the rare bookworm actually reading while they walk, though I have yet to see a walker trying to shave while in transit, as I saw a motorist doing not long ago in his rear-view mirror.

Winter is coming and pedestrians won’t want to sit freezing on the corner for the light to change again so they will make those desperate dashes for the other side. (In the depths of January and February, will to live may not be at an all-time high among the walkers, either.)

A story like the Regniers’ may wake us up for a couple of days, get us to ease off the gas pedal and cover the brake, or take a second look before stepping off the curb, but we’re all in such a hurry, minds on where we’re going and what we will do there, instead of on maximizing our chances of getting there in one piece.

 
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