2017 Pedestrian Safety Recap

2017 was a big year for pedestrians and cyclists in Sudbury. The city installed a bunch of new pedestrian crossovers, initiated a leading pedestrian interval at Kathleen and Notre Dame, and the new active transportation coordinator started getting some serious results as far as infrastructure improvements including new, and improved, cycling infrastructure on Paris Street. And most promisingly, the city began a consultation process for making LaSalle Boulevard more pedestrian-friendly.

But the city also made a number of blunders in the past year. They closed the Elgin / Riverside pedestrian underpass ramp at the height of Christmas shopping season, forcing pedestrians who have difficulty with stairs to take a 2 km detour. They also allowed contractors to block the sidewalk on Douglas Street for several days without providing a safe path for pedestrians to travel along the 50-60km/h road.

Douglas Sidewalk Closed
City contractors closed the only sidewalk on Douglas Street for several days in June, forcing pedestrians into the road, and preventing people with mobility aids from travelling along the road. (photo by Dave)

And the police continue to withhold information from the public regarding motor vehicle collisions involving pedestrians.

We know from the Sudbury Police twitter account, and from some media outlets, that at least 19 drivers hit pedestrians in 2017, resulting in one death. We know from Freedom of Information Requests in past years that there were likely many more collisions with pedestrians in 2017.

FOI vs Media
The orange bars in this graph show the number of collisions with pedestrians reported to police from 2009 to 2016. The red line shows the number of collisions with pedestrians reported in the media (including the Sudbury Police twitter account).

In some years the police have provided aggregate data related to pedestrian collisions, but these news releases are often misleading in how they report the numbers and raw data is never voluntarily released.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 3.45.06 PM.png
It is plainly incorrect to describe 39% as “most”. (source)

Early in 2018 I’ll be filing a Freedom of Information Request for the dates, times and locations of every motor vehicle collision involving a pedestrian in 2017. I’ll use this data to update the pedestrian collision map on this website and my hope is that you will use this data to demand safer infrastructure from the city, and more accurate reporting from police and the media in 2018.

But the big transportation story for 2017 in Sudbury was Council’s decision to locate the new arena / events centre out on the Kingsway near the landfill.

Not only does this decision have major economic implications for the city, the transportation impacts are significant: Bus service will need to be modified to provide anything close to resembling the transit service currently available to the downtown arena; new traffic lights and additional lanes will need to be installed on The Kingsway; and there will be several thousand fewer people within a 20 minute walk, or 10 minute bike ride, of the city’s community arena. Those who choose to walk will have to travel along an inhospitable and dangerous route, or go more than a kilometre out of their way to take a safer and more comfortable route.

I’ll continue to keep an eye on issues of pedestrian safety to the best of my ability, but since I am no longer a resident of Greater Sudbury please do not depend on me to advocate on your behalf in 2018.

If you think these issues are important it’s up to you to research best practices and call on members of Council and staff to make decisions that prioritize the safety of pedestrians and cyclists over the convenience and speed of drivers.

Good luck.

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