Group calls on changes to Hastings Street, dubbed Vancouver’s ‘most dangerous area for pedestrians’

By Angela Bower and Charlene Co

Concerns are being raised about a hazardous stretch of traffic on East Hastings.

Members of Vision Zero Vancouver say Hastings Street is one of the “most dangerous areas for pedestrians” in Vancouver, and is appealing to motorists to slow down and be more aware of the people on the street.

“The design of the street is six lanes,” Mihai Cirstea a member of the organization, said. “Six wide lanes make it look like a freeway, and people will drive on it like it’s a freeway. We have a lot of foot traffic. It’s a very hostile street environment.”

There is a 30 km-per-hour speed limit on the corner of Hastings and Dunlevy in East Vancouver, however, there are vehicles that clock in at 59 kilometers per hour.

speed limit sign showing 30 km / hour

CityNews Reporter Angela Bower took a firsthand look at how fast people were going on a 30 km/hour restricted zone.
(Angela Bower/ CityNews)

 

Hastings resident Ben Best says he has seen his fair share of pedestrians getting hit, adding that he personally does not feel safe crossing that street.

“At night time? Absolutely not,” Best said. “Cars are racing up and down, not obeying the speed limit.”

According to ICBC, the Lower Mainland has the highest number of motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians in B.C., registering a five-year average of 2,000 cases.

Michelle Scarr, who’s also with Vision Zero Vancouver, says slowing down makes a world of difference.

“If you’re driving 30 km an hour, you’re less likely to hit people in the first place. And the severity of the crash is much less likely to end up killing somebody,” said Scarr.

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The Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals says that if a car hits a pedestrian at 30 km an hour, the pedestrian has a 90 per cent chance of survival, but when hit at 60 km an hour, they have zero per cent chance of making it.

Scarr says the six-lane streets are too wide and crosswalks don’t give enough time for pedestrians to cross safely.

“We also need political change,” she added. “We need the provincial and municipal governments to step up.”

Vision Zero is also calling for more speed bumps and medians to be added to streets, for wider sidewalks for pedestrians, and for more signages for vehicles. These added and enhanced measures will hopefully decrease, if not all together eliminate pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

“It makes me pretty angry because these are things that don’t have to be this way. We know what the solutions are,” Scarr said. “These are things that we can change if we really want to”

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