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Vehicularly challenged

By Lauren Smith


No, it’s not a word, but that’s how I describe myself when people ask if I have a car. I’m almost 27 years old and I have yet to own a vehicle. To be honest, I don’t want one. I have enough bills to worry about, not to mention student loan payments. I find walking and public transportation extremely convenient in the city, and for that reason I am going to put off buying a car for the foreseeable future.

However, this doesn’t remove me from the dangers of the road. Recently, I saw a pedestrian who was hit by a truck. The pedestrian was in a crosswalk, she had the right of way, but the truck didn’t see her as he turned the corner. The pedestrian was OK, mostly just scraped up and shaken from the incident.

Stories like that definitely give me the shivers – as a pedestrian, you don’t have any protection if you collide with a vehicle. That’s why it’s so important to be a defensive walker! Whether you’re walking to work or just enjoying a relaxing stroll, here are some tips to help you stay safe while journeying on foot:

  • Obey all traffic signs and signals.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the side of the road facing traffic.
  • Wear bright or light-coloured clothing or reflective strips when walking in dark or low-light conditions.
  • Cross safely at corners and crosswalks, preferably at intersections with traffic lights.
  • Stop at the curb to show drivers you intend to cross the road. Hold your arm straight out, at right angle to your body, pointing across the road as a legal sign to motorists that you wish to cross the road.
  • Look left, right and left again before proceeding to cross the road. Cross when traffic has come to a complete stop and make eye contact with drivers in each lane that you cross to ensure you are seen.
  • Continue crossing the street if the light changes to ‘don’t walk’ while you are in the crosswalk.
  • Watch for traffic turning at intersections or entering and leaving driveways.

(source: Government of Alberta Transportation)

Now that the weather is finally getting warmer, many opt to walk or even bike instead of driving. Just make sure you stay alert for vehicles. And especially be sure to be a defensive walker/biker!

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