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The Amazing Hunt – Surrey

Crosswalk Etiquette in Vancouver

September 10th, 2007 @ 11:30am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I know pedestrians in the city can get a little crazy and if you’re a driver they’re your worst enemy on the road. Although when you’re out walking somewhere, the drivers are the bad guys. It goes both ways but that doesn’t mean rules of the road should be ignored. I don’t know how many times I’ve stood at a crosswalk and had 20 cars breeze right past me. Not only do they have to stop, not doing so can land them hefty fines.

On August 28, 2007, Officers from the Vancouver Police Department Traffic Unit will be conducting several crosswalk safety enforcements throughout the city. An officer wearing plainclothes will be posing as a pedestrian crossing at various crosswalks, while other officers nearby will be looking for drivers committing speeding, failure to yield and other violations. [VPD]

I’ve seen these types of stings before in Surrey and within only a few hours dozens of drivers were ticketed for failing to stop at crosswalks to let pedestrians pass. More importantly, if you’re driving along a 2 lane road and the person on the right or left stops for a crosswalk, make sure you’re paying attention and stop as well. I’ve also been in that situation where one lane will stop for you and the other doesn’t.


Photo credit: Jeffery Simpson on Flickr

Pedestrian-controlled intersections are an entirely different breed and apparently unique to this area. I recently found a write up about them on a travel site:

The flashing green light is a “Pedestrian Crosswalk”. It stays flashing green so you can continue to drive through the crosswalk and do not need to stop, but once a pedestrian pushes the crosswalk button the green light turns solid red stopping the traffic letting the pedestrian cross. Do not stop your vehicle on a green light or you might get a rude awakening from behind by another car. [TravelEtiquette]

Special note here, if you are approaching a ‘flashing green light’ intersection from the sides, you probably still have a stop sign in front of you. If the light turns red for the oncoming traffic to your left and right, you still have to STOP at the stop sign, then proceed into the intersection when it’s safe to do so. Yes, I’m talking to all the drivers crossing Robson Street that completely ignore stop signs when approaching it from a side street and just zoom through intersections at full speed, without even a pause.

According to this site, it’s $167 for failing to stop at a crosswalk, so perhaps that will act as a deterrent, especially with children being back at school. It’s the same fine as if you fail to stop for a school bus or stop for a crossing guard. Regardless of road rage, walk rage, bike rage etc. crosswalks should be a safe place, and I’d much rather use one than risk jaywalking and pissing off motorists, getting a fine or getting hit.

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9 comments

  1. Duane says:

    I’d love to see cops spend more time going after people like that. While I think speeding is obviously a bad thing, whenever I’ve had a ticket for it it’s been an obvious money grab (i.e. putting a cop car with a radar gun at the bottom of a huge hill). Going after people who run the risk of hurting pedestrians outright seems like a good use of time to me.

  2. Tyler Ingram says:

    I hate when the person at the sidewalk is standing waiting to cross.. you slow down stop.. and they are just sitting there.. i mean.. if you’re not going to cross then why stand right there??

    Then on the other side of the coin. I too hate when people don’t stop when I’m clearing standing.. waiting to cross. Sometimes I’ve had to walk on the street to actually have the cars stop to let me cross.

    On a side note, I wish people would obey school zone speeds. I’m driving home from work and there is a school there and I’m doing roughly 30 where most people around me are doing 60+ and when I am off work is when the kindergartens are out so they are all over the place and people just speed by..

  3. Keira-Anne says:

    People that drive over crosswalks without a care in the world who pretend to be oblivious make me incredibly angry as a regular pedestrian in this city. Cab drivers and bus drivers are the worst – they seem to think that they have the rule of the road, no matter what.

    I’ve now resorted to literally smacking the vehicles that do cut me off in crosswalks. My reason for this is to simply cause the driver to think – even for just a split second – that they may have hit someone. It’s little jolts like that which will hopefully get them thinking next time.

  4. Rod says:

    The other frustrating thing (from a driver’s perspective) is people who enter a crosswalk when it’s not safely possible for oncoming traffic to stop, seemingly assuming that they’re safe because they’re in the crosswalk.

    I heard one pedestrian claim that they had the right of way, and the traffic was just going to have to stop. While this might be true, it doesn’t mean much if you’re dead.

  5. Darren says:

    An odd feature of life in Malta is that drivers are extraordinarily respectful of people standing at crosswalks. I’ve never once begun to step out into a crosswalk here and had the driver pass me by.

  6. wyn says:

    I really want to do what Keira-Anne does and thump a car that is being selfish but instead give sour looks that probably slide right off on a thick-skinned driver. =S

    When I was taught to drive in Halifax, I remember being instructed that when a pedestrian’s foot is on the street — watch for it! — that driver better stop. It seems no one here is taught that!

    Another case is when a car is on a side street waiting to turn right onto a main street and the driver is only looking left when I am standing on his right, just ripe to be run over full speed when the driver squeals his tires and blasts onto the main street.

  7. Ross says:

    As a 33 year old who has NEVER had a drivers license (yup) I really consider myself the epitome of a pedestrian. So I have to say, I think that was a great idea :)

    They released the stats for the “School Zone Enforcement Citation” project (30 warnings, 29 speeding citations, 11 other citations). It would have been fun to create some kind of pool for total # of tickets issued etc. The person who guesses closest wins a prize.

  8. KevBo says:

    Ive got a very big problem when pedestrians dont look out for other pedestrians and just start to walk on the wrong side of the sidewalk. Geeze, dont some people just get it.

  9. Timbo says:

    Not originally from Vancouver, but have lived here for several years. I would like to comment on the “flashing green light pedestrian crosswalk” concept. Is this idea unique to Vancouver?
    Not sure on the statistics regarding accidents involved in these intersections, but I find it a very potentially dangerous idea. The flashing light in most North American city means right to turn. More over trying to enter the intersection from that on coming street with the stop sign is very stressful.
    I would like to hear others thoughts on my comments.

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