Pat Black (front) and Wendy Aasen think bringing the custom of pedestrians signaling their intention to cross a street could improve safety. There will be a Pedestrian Safety Symposium and Information Fair at The Schubert Centre March 23.

Pat Black (front) and Wendy Aasen think bringing the custom of pedestrians signaling their intention to cross a street could improve safety. There will be a Pedestrian Safety Symposium and Information Fair at The Schubert Centre March 23.

Walkers taught to stay safe

Members of the Seniors Advisory Board got talking about the difficulties of walking.

“People said it was taking your life in your hands and some people had been hit by vehicles while walking, one was seriously injured. We asked ourselves what we could do about it and agreed that it wasn’t likely that drivers were going to change and start following the law,” said Pat Black, coordinator, Falls Prevention.

“We thought we needed to educate people to be more defensive when walking. I’d like to see what I learned in school in Ontario, pointing your hand out to indicate that you are going to cross at an intersection so that drivers can stop.”

She formed a committee to look a how to present information to people and worked with the Falls Prevention Program, the Seniors Information and Resource Bureau, Vernon Independent Living, City of Vernon, RCMP Safe Communities Unit, and Interior Health. They came up with the Pedestrian Safety Symposium and Information Fair to be held at The Schubert Centre March 23 with information on pedestrian issues, related programs and services and a Scooter Safety and Wheelchair seminar.

Wendy Aasen joined the committee because she walks a lot and would like to see pedestrian safety improved for everyone.

“Pedestrians need to make it clear to drivers what they are going to do, be sure that drivers can see them and be aware of visual screens and blind lanes. People should estimate the time they have to cross a street at a traffic signal and, for older people, not feel compelled to run or walk faster than is safe or comfortable,” she said.

Black pointed out that it is not just seniors and mothers with strollers who walk.

“Many people of all ages, including students, walk as much as they can. The city promotes pedestrianism but if we are going to do that we have to make it safer so that people are not afraid to walk as they are now in many places,” she said.

The Pedestrian Safety and Symposium Fair will have three short workshops, Defensive Walking, City and Pedestrians and Independent Walking, as well as a Scooter and Wheelchair Education Module (by reservation only) and displays of reflective items and clothing for walking.

“We are encouraged to walk, and walking has so many benefits, keeping mobile, good for mental and physical health. There are costs involved when people can’t walk,” said Aasen.

There will be morning and afternoon presentations of each workshop.

“This should be a day that has a lot of learning opportunity. Everyone we talk to says we really need this. If anyone has any ideas and information about this topic, they can contact me,” said Black.

“We’d like to see something ongoing with this, maybe an action group or a standing committee that can come up with plans and advocate for change.”

The Pedestrian Safety Symposium and Information Fair takes place Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Schubert Centre. The event is free but pre-registration is required for the Scooter and Wheelchair seminar. For more information or to pre-register for the Scooter and Wheelchair Seminar, call Black at 250-545-8572 or e-mail nofalls@socialplanning.ca.