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Richmond pedestrians report feeling 'bullied' by cars

Twenty-six pedestrians died in Richmond between 2012 and 2021, according to the BC Coroners Service.
Athena Estremadura presented the results of a survey of more than 100 Richmond pedestrians to Richmond city council.

Richmond pedestrians don’t feel safe walking and rolling through Richmond.

In fact, in a recent survey, one third rated their safety in intersections as very low.

The Richmond Poverty Reduction Coalition (RPRC) did interviews with 109 people who use various social services, such as the Richmond Food Bank, Richmond Family Place and Pathways, to see how they felt as pedestrians in Richmond.

These interviews were compiled into a report and was presented to city council on Monday.

Of those interviewed, 73 per cent didn’t drive regularly.

RPRC has been studying pedestrian safety for a year based on the principle of “Vision Zero,” a movement that started in Sweden in the 1990s.  

“It’s the belief that defining our road safety priorities around what’s acceptable, what’s preventable and how to plan for human error and share that responsibility is a collaborative effort that should ideally strive for zero deaths and injuries,” explained Athena Estremadura, who led the study and made the presentation to city council.

According to the BC Coroners Services, 26 pedestrians died in Richmond between 2012 and 2021.

In the RPRC survey, 60 per cent of respondents said cars made them feel rushed or unsafe in intersections.

“These themes were heightened in stories regarding close calls with cars experienced by wheelchair users and mothers who got lost navigating the freeway intersections,” the report noted.

Meanwhile, 33 per cent of those interviewed rated Richmond drivers’ respect for pedestrians at one or two out of five.

“We heard words like ‘entitled’ and ‘bullying’ in descriptions of Richmond drivers who have shown a real lack of concern for pedestrians or self-awareness of speed,” the report continued.

The survey also noted there was confusion, sometimes among newcomers, about pedestrian signals and which side of the road to walk on when there's no sidewalk.

The group asked city council to start a working group that would include public health, police, transportation and public works, the school district and government representatives, in order to create a road safety proposal.

They also want enforcement of pedestrians’ right of way and public campaigns to bring awareness of the vulnerability of pedestrians.