A study funded by the City of Vancouver has found that almost one out of every three Downtown Eastside residents has been hit by a vehicle.

Don Buchanan, co-co-ordinator of the Downtown Eastside Pedestrian Safety Project, called that statistic the most surprising one he came across.

“I think that’s indicative of people who have lost hope and don’t have a lot of care for their own personal safety,” Buchanan said. “We looked at the causes (of accidents) based on behavioural observation, how people’s actions were contributing to dangerous situations on the street.”

The report, titled “We’re All Pedestrians,” is based on background information gathered by researchers at Simon Fraser University and at the University of B.C. over six years. Numbers from that study suggest that there are just under 400 pedestrian injuries recorded each year in the city and more than 10 per cent of those occur in the Downtown Eastside.

“The basic issue with the Downtown Eastside is there are lot of vulnerable road users. It has a much higher percentage of people with mobility challenges and mental-health and addiction issues. All those things are going to contribute to reduced judgment in terms of crossing the street,” said Buchanan.

“The biggest change we’re suggesting is the city implement an annual monitoring and reporting system, so they could monitor pedestrian injuries throughout the city and report on those and set targets for injury reduction.”

Buchanan said he believes this single recommendation will have the largest impact citywide.
“It currently isn’t being done by the city or TransLink or anyone, actually. Their focus is on congestion.”

This would mean every year the city would look at where pedestrians are being hit and whether steps had previously been taken in those areas to address the problem. It would also highlight locations where further work needs to be done.

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