In Nanaimo, the message is clear: if you’re not wearing reflective clothing while out for a walk, expect to be hit by a car. That’s the message we’re routinely told by RCMP, ICBC, and city officials. Pedestrians are expected to suit up before leaving their homes so drivers, equipped with headlights and a driver’s license, can avoid hitting you. Drivers are the center of attention when it comes to transportation in Nanaimo. Roads rarely accommodate anyone other than drivers here, although that’s slowly changing as projects like Metral Drive begin to take shape.
The first line of defence would be what they are wearing. They have to have reflective clothing that is seen.
Quotes like these hammer home the responsibility pedestrians have for their safety despite being exponentially more vulnerable than the drivers that hit them. Instead of shifting blame to pedestrians, we should be slowing drivers down so that they’re less of a risk on the road. A pedestrian, whose only crime is walking, cannot be held liable for a negligent driver. Walking in your community shouldn’t be seen as a liability. Children and seniors are especially vulnerable.
According to the ICBC, there were 220 incidents related to pedestrian versus vehicle collisions, which resulted in 190 pedestrian injuries and three deaths on [the] Island in 2020.
On the first of March, 2023, a woman was struck by a vehicle while crossing the highway toward Nanaimo North mall at night. As expected, the article mentioned comments made by RCMP on what the victim was wearing: “O’Brien noted the pedestrian was wearing dark, non-reflective clothing at the time of the incident.” Drivers should be held accountable for their actions, and we as a city need to react differently to collisions with pedestrians. We need to remember: you don’t need a license to walk.