Between 2004 and 2008, 32 Ottawans were killed and 1,668 more injured — all while crossing a city street.
And while drivers are usually blamed for these incidents, the pedestrian was at fault in about half these cases, said Transportation Committee Chair Coun. Maria McRae.
Through a new pedestrian safety campaign launched at city hall Thursday, the city is empowering pedestrians to “Walk like your life depends on it” — that is, to take responsibility for their own actions — to reduce Ottawa’s pedestrian injury rate.
In 2008, one-third of Ottawa’s traffic fatalities involved a pedestrian. While the city’s Integrated Road Safety Program — developed in 2003 to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries — usually targets drivers, it is shifting its focus for the campaign, McRae said.
In addition to producing a comprehensive Pedestrian Plan as part of the Transportation Master Plan, the city has audible pedestrian signals and a pedestrian countdown signal instillation program, said acting mayor Michel Bellemare.
“Walking is fundamental to the life and health of our city,” said the city’s Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches. “Close to 10 per cent of us walk to work.”
As a part of the campaign, Ottawa police are focusing on pedestrians who cross without the right-of-way and drivers who fail to yield.