Picture yourself at one of the busiest intersections in the City of Greater Sudbury. The Elm/Notre Dame/Lloyd/Paris intersection sounds complicated, but it’s really just two streets that cross each other and change names on the other side.
This is where the five lanes of Elm/Lloyd and the seven lanes of Paris/Notre Dame meet. The distance to cross each of these roads is about 30 metres.
You’re here because you work downtown and wanted to go to the food court in the mall for lunch. Or because you park your car in the gravel lot where the Y used to be, or at the Ukrainian Catholic Church just up the road. Or maybe you’re here because you live in the community housing development on Louis street, or the co-up on Ste Anne and you need to get to the bus terminal to get to an appointment, or to your job.
The intersection is controlled by traffic lights, and there are buttons at each corner that chirp when the light changes if you push them. You press the button out of habit because you’ve noticed that in Sudbury you only seem to get a walk signal if you press the button.
The light changes. The walk sign lights up. You step onto the crosswalk and glance over your left shoulder just in time to see a driver approach the corner fast enough that you don’t think they’re going to stop. So you pause and your fear is confirmed. The driver zips around the corner passing in front of you. You look at the driver, but the driver isn’t looking at you.
You yell, flip the bird. They carry on. You glance over your shoulder again, and step out farther into the crosswalk. By now the walk signal has switched to the flashing don’t walk sign meaning, “do not begin crossing”, but you cross anyway.
You think, “Someone’s going to hit someone one of these days”.
The fact is, someone hits someone at this intersection every year.
Between 2009 and 2016 there have been 16 collisions with pedestrians at this intersection. This doesn’t really surprise you, but it sounds like more than you would have guessed. That’s because of these 16 incidents, only 3 were ever reported in the news.
- June 1, 2009 – 10:43am
- December 29, 2010 – 9:34pm (2 struck)
- August 12, 2011 – 10:13pm
- October 13, 2011 – 8:14pm
- March 7, 2012 – 6:42pm
- October 31, 2012 – 7:26am
- February 5, 2013 – 1:54pm
- August 13, 2013 – 2:45pm
- March 18, 2013 – 1:44pm
- May 1, 2014 – 4:00pm
- November 26, 2015 – 8:39pm (2 struck)
- December 9, 2015 – 7:48am
- December 27, 2015 – 12:28pm
- October 12, 2016 – 10:00am
- November 6, 2016 – 10:16am
- November 6, 2016 – 1:20pm
I started tracking news reports of collisions with pedestrians shortly after moving to Sudbury in 2010. In 2015 I created a map showing the locations of every collision reported in the news, or mentioned on social media, and found that Sudbury averaged about 7 or 8 collisions per year. When police released their year-end statistics however, I was surprised to learn only about 10% of collisions with pedestrians ever get mentioned in the news.
The only reason I know about all 16 collisions at Elm/Notre Dame/Lloyd/Paris is because I filed requests under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act with the Greater Sudbury Police Service.
I filed my first FOI request in 2015 and received the dates, times and locations of collisions with pedestrians from 2009 to 2014. I’ve already written a fair bit based on that set of information on this blog but now I have the results of an FOI request filed this year for data from 2015 and 2016.
I’ve used this data to produce a more complete google map showing the locations of each collision, with dates and times and the stories (when available) embedded in the virtual pins. I’ve also created an excel spreadsheet that allows me to examine the data in greater detail and produce graphics to communicate the information.
This week I’ll be sharing some of the things I’ve learned about collisions with pedestrians in Sudbury thanks to this data and I’ll be commenting on the disservice done to the public by withholding this information. I’ll also be talking about how we can use this data to improve road safety in the city of Greater Sudbury.
For now, use the map below to explore the neighbourhoods where you live and work, where your kids go to school, where you shop. If this map is surprising to you then write to the newspapers and tell them you want better coverage of collisions with pedestrians. Write to your city councillor and tell them you want your streets to be safer.