on March 17, 2016 by test_editor in Archive_2016, March, Print Articles, WEB-EXTRA content, Comments Off on March 17, 2016: Valuable People Safe Streets; Street Audit Report.

March 17, 2016: Valuable People Safe Streets; Street Audit Report.

March 17, 2016: Valuable People Safe Streets;
Street Audit Report.

By Cheryl Parrott, Hintonburg Community Association.

Safe Streets for Seniors and other Valuable People. Wow! What a concept. We are so used to hearing “vulnerable people” that it took a while for the ear to register the term “valuable” people. If it is safe for seniors it is safe for everyone.

On Feb. 25, the Ottawa Seniors Transportation Committee (OSTC), part of the Council on Aging, together with Ecology Ottawa, launched their “Age Friendly Walkability Report – Safe Streets for Seniors and other Valuable People in Ottawa”.

OSTC worked with 3 community groups over 2 years to complete all-season walkability audits. The Hintonburg Community Association (HCA) was just one of the community groups involved. The HCA had identified 42 pedestrian safety issues at intersections more than 4 years ago.

Concerns regarding pedestrian safety escalated in 2014 when the community learned that 2500 buses a day would be diverted onto Scott Street for 2½ years.

HCA and OSTC worked together to adapt the walk-ability audit to our needs, and in the spring of 2014 the first of four walkability audits was conducted.

Focusing on pedestrian safety issues from the perspective of seniors covers all vulnerable populations – those with mobility issues and children. This point was driven home by Karen Scott from MS Society as she told of neighbour Bob, a senior using a cane, and another neighbour in a wheelchair, both trying to reach the local bus stop 4 days after an Ottawa snowstorm.

She painted a graphic picture of the difficulties they encountered with poorly plowed sidewalks, snowbanks and being unable to get into the bus shelter (and out of the rain) because of ice and snow. Sound familiar? Yes – even to those who are agile.

Most of us have experienced difficulties – getting through crosswalks, watching parents hauling strollers over snowbanks or getting off buses. Hence the term “and other valuable people.”
Winter sidewalk navigation makes every pedestrian “vulnerable”.

OSTC has worked with the City to create “Sidewalk Hazard Report Forms”, used to report trip hazards for pedestrians, those in wheelchairs, and those with walkers or strollers.

The HCA submitted a number of these forms as part of the 4 Scott Street audits. Late in 2015 almost all of these trip hazards on Scott were repaired when the Public Works department received extra funding for over 2,000 of more than 7,600 trip hazards identified that year in the city core.

Councillor Leiper’s help to prioritize Scott was also essential. Ecology Ottawa spoke about the issue of pedestrians not having been a priority for 50 years. Cities have been designed to get you places quickly in a car. Ottawa has now adopted a Complete Streets policy saying streets should be designed for all ages, abilities, and modes of travel. It is important now to ensure there is the political will to carry this out.

The City is repairing about 500 streets a year – this is where pedestrians can have an impact to ensure safety and walkability, and a Complete Street rebuild.

Why do we need this? By 2031, more than one in five residents in Ottawa will be over 65. Between 2000 and 2008, 63% of pedestrians killed at intersections were 65 or older.

Wheelchair users are 3 times more likely to suffer from a car collision. Driving 15 km/h over the speed limit increases the chance of killing a pedestrian from 45% to 85%.

In ensuring the safety of our streets, no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. You can have a voice in protecting those you consider your personal, “valuable people.”

To read the full report: http://www.coaottawa.ca

Side walk corner buried in snow with no pedestrian path available.

Pile of Frustration.

Photo Caption: As demonstrated by this snowbank along Scott Street, winter sidewalk navigation makes every pedestrian “vulnerable.” Photo by Cheryl Parrott.

street plowing creates a berm of snow that wheeled pedestrians can't cross

Accessibility fail.

Photo Caption: More snow at sidewalk corners. Photo by Cheryl Parrott.

[Ed: for another view on the issue see
THE LATEST SCOOP: How safe are our streets for seniors and other pedestrians?
Special to KT by Peggy Edwards.
http://kitchissippi.com/2016/03/03/how-safe-are-our-streets-for-seniors-and-other-pedestrians/ ]


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