As the days continue to shorten and winter solstice looms, ICBC and Saanich police are urging more pedestrians and cyclists to embrace flashy clothing as a matter of life and death.
Last Thursday, Saanich police and Reserve Constables passed out free commercial-grade reflectors to University of Victoria students as they boarded buses and rushed off to class.
“See still see a lot of pedestrians out there dressed in black or dark clothing, so we want to let people know they can wear whatever they wish but you need to be reflective and visible at night,” said Saanich police Sgt. Alan Gurzinski.
ICBC’s sobering statistics reveal a 74 per cent uptick in pedestrian or cyclist collisions with vehicles between October and January. December is the worst month for pedestrian injuries and deaths resulting from vehicle collisions, and most incidents happen on Friday afternoons after 3 p.m. when people are often tired and in a hurry to get home.
“It’s a shared responsibility,” said Colleen Woodger, ICBC road safety co-ordinator. “It’s not just the pedestrian’s responsibility to wear reflective gear, but it’s also the driver’s responsibility to look for pedestrians.”
Eye contact between drivers and pedestrians or cyclists is the best way to ensure both parties are aware of one another, Woodger said.
Gurzinski, a member of Saanich PD’s bike squad, said he often discovers other mountain bikers on Saanich’s trails who lack proper lights and reflective gear.
“They come up on you so quick, and it’s quite concerning for me where you’re on a trail,” he said.
Woodger was encouraged by the initial response from UVic students, who were keen to grab a reflector for their bag, jacket or bike.
“Some transit users don’t think they need reflective equipment, but every bus ride starts and ends with a walk,” she said. “Remember to look, listen and be seen.”