Our provincial driving manual Learn to Drive Smart devotes an entire chapter to the concept of See – Think – Do Method. See: The pedestrian waiting to cross the street in the intersection. Think: There are no lines painted on the pavement, but it is an unmarked crosswalk and I have to stop for the pedestrian. Do: Yield the right of way to the pedestrian and allow them to cross the street.
In a perfect world, drivers would have no hesitation in stopping for pedestrians, pedestrians would use a crosswalk properly and the authorities would construct roads to facilitate both.
All of these things ran through my mind this week as I waited to cross Craig Street at Lee Avenue in Parksville carrying a load of materials for my Elder College seminar on Safe Driving for Seniors.
Drivers were looking at me as they passed by, but none of them stopped to let me cross. Had my hands not been occupied, I could have chosen to hold an arm out at shoulder height pointing across the road to indicate to them that I wanted to cross. This would make my intention obvious and their duty to stop more likely to occur.
As a driver, I know that I find the decision to stop for pedestrians can be difficult at times. The tendency is to carry on through rather than change what you are doing. This failure can be seen in many other driving situations such as following the slow down, move over rules or by passing other traffic on the right.
To make matters more difficult, if I walked straight across the T intersection, I would walk right into the side of a car parked at the curb on the opposite side.
The Motor Vehicle Act in section 189(1) prohibits the stopping, standing or parking of vehicles inside an intersection unless permitted by a sign. It also forbids parking on a crosswalk.
In the case of McKee v McCoy, Mr. Justice Shaw examines the conditions required to show the existence of an unmarked crosswalk at a municipal intersection. Virtually any improvement of the shoulder of a highway would qualify as sidewalk area and result in the presence of an unmarked crosswalk in the intersection. This is not needed here as there is a sidewalk on both sides of the street.
The City of Parksville has painted lines on the pavement that would give drivers the impression that parking is permitted on Craig Street across from Lee Road but did not carry through by posting the necessary signs. It would appear that there was also no consideration of the unmarked crosswalk locations, but provision was made for a fire hydrant. This situation repeats itself at other nearby intersections.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure does publish a Pedestrian Crossing Control Manual for British Columbia that is intended to act as a guide for implementing pedestrian crossing standards.
While there are rules governing how pedestrians must conduct themselves, there is a strong onus on the driver to watch out for them on the highway. It is better to stop for a pedestrian when you do not need to than to drive on when you should not.