Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: Crowdsourcing neighbourhood road safety projects

The homeowner explained that this happened almost every time the corner was slippery

By Tim Schewe

One definition of crowdsourcing is where an organization obtains ideas from a large, relatively open and often rapidly evolving group of participants. An example of how this can be applied to road safety is found in the Spring 2021 edition of Transportation Talk, a publication of the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers. The City of Edmonton is asking it’s citizens to participate as part of it’s current Safe Mobility Strategy 2021-2025.

Over the course of my service in traffic enforcement I was occasionally exposed to the wisdom that could be gained from the people that had connections to the roads that I was responsible for. One of the best came from a resident that lived beside Naramata Road north of the City of Penticton.

I was called to a single vehicle off road right crash on an icy corner. I parked my police vehicle in what I thought was a good spot to protect the scene and had started to investigate. The homeowner that lived next to the road came out and suggested that I had better move my police vehicle to a better spot as it was likely to be hit by the next vehicle that rounded the corner at an unsafe speed.

The advice was useful and I’m glad that I took it and moved my car. Before I had concluded my investigation another car had slid right through where I had parked and we were lucky that no damage or injury occurred.

The homeowner explained that this happened almost every time the corner was slippery, but often did not result in damage. No damage means no crash report, something that police, ICBC and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure relied on to identify problems.

Repeat these circumstances often enough and eventually damage, injury or death will find a way to occur.

To take advantage of this accumulated wisdom, Edmonton has created Vision Zero Street Labs. These labs are billed as combining the expertise and power of Edmontonians and City of Edmonton staff to quickly and creatively address neighbourhood safety and livability concerns.

The projects developed by the street labs are meant to be temporary with a duration worked out between the community project team and the city. If they are successful, the city will explore making the permanent.

Perhaps this would be a good example to show to your municipality if you are willing to form your own street lab group and solve a road safety problem in your neighbourhood.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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