What’s your idea of a safe city? For many of us, the first things that come to mind are not having to worry about being mugged in the downtown or attacked on a bus, not being caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout, not being stabbed for our pocket change, and not having our homes firebombed by some mouthbreather who has the wrong address for his intended victim.


Those are certainly things that all of us want to avoid. But just how likely are they to happen?


Not very likely if you look at the statistics. The overwhelming majority of us are not going to be victims of a violent crime. However, there are many other things that present a clear and present danger to our health and well-being that do not get the attention they deserve.


First on my list are unlit and uncontrolled crosswalks that present an invitation to injury and death. At some point, all of us are going to have to cross some road or another. Without warning lights for signals to tell drivers we are going to do so, we are putting ourselves at risk.

Another, and less obvious risk to our health, are the sidewalks in the city that are in desperate need of repair. The risk they pose to all and sundry only increases in the winter. Many sidewalks have settled on an angle over time. This means that when snow melts, water pools on them. No matter how diligent we are at cleaning them, we cannot make water run uphill. With the freeze-and-thaw cycles at this time of year, that means there will always be ice to victimize the unwary.

It’s one thing to take a tumble and bruise your tailbone when you are young. It’s quite another to take a fall when you are older and break a hip bone. We certainly want our older citizens to feel comfortable and safe in the city they have helped build. But they can’t do that if something as simple as a sidewalk poses a threat to them.

The reason for not repairing our sidewalks, installing traffic lights and so on is always a lack of money. Yet we can find millions of dollars to support the Indy and make an Expo bid.

It would seem to me that we have our priorities wrong.

– Terence Harding is a corporate communicator. He’s a keen observer of all things Edmonton; edmontonletters@metronews.ca.