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Vehicle-pedestrian accidents not surprising at busy intersections

The white car at left is the suspect vehicle in the hit-and-run that injured two joggers.

RCMP

People race onto the bus or the SkyTrain. They head to their homes, among the ever-increasing number of condos. Main Street and Terminal Avenue is a major transit and pedestrian hub, and last year it was the intersection that saw the most pedestrians struck by vehicles in Vancouver.

Pedestrian collisions made a flurry of headlines this week due to a flurry of accidents. On Friday, the husband of a Vancouver woman who was struck and killed told a police news conference how he had to explain to his five-year-old daughter "mummy was never coming home."

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia says 2012 pedestrian collision numbers are not yet available, but in 2011 five pedestrians were hit at Main and Terminal. (A pedestrian died after being hit by a bus at the intersection last September.)

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Spend a few minutes at the intersection and the danger is apparent. A pedestrian crosses the street against the light. A vehicle stops in the middle of the crosswalk, forcing pedestrians to weave around it. Another vehicle accelerates through a left turn, despite the fact the arrow has expired.

Between 2007 and 2011, Main and Terminal had the fourth-most pedestrian collisions in Vancouver. Main and Hastings, several blocks north, was first with 31 pedestrian collisions over the stretch.

However, Main and Hastings saw its total drop by half from 2010 to 2011 – from eight collisions to four. Main and Terminal had two pedestrian collisions in 2010.

While Main and Terminal's ranking might not be a surprise, due to the number of vehicles and people going through on a daily basis, the intersection of Commercial Drive and 12th Avenue is more curious. Though the intersection is busy when it comes to vehicles, it did not see any pedestrians struck in 2009 or 2010 – then four people were hit last year.

Andy Dosanjh, whose family owns the Shop N' Save food store on the corner, said one of the people hit last year was a customer. She spent weeks in hospital. The driver fled.

Mr. Dosanjh said his own father was clipped by a vehicle earlier this year. He suffered a leg injury. Again, the driver sped away.

Mr. Dosanjh said while the intersection is dangerous – people have joked it's just a matter of time before a vehicle barrels right into the store – there have not been any major changes over the past couple of years. He said he has not noticed more cars than in years past and noted the busier intersection, the transit hub of Commercial and Broadway, is three blocks north.

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Constable Brian Montague, a Vancouver police spokesman, said it's difficult to tell why an intersection would see a sudden increase in pedestrian collisions. He said he would only be able to speculate.

A trio of other Vancouver intersections also had four pedestrian collisions last year: Davie and Thurlow streets; Dunsmuir and Howe streets; and East 49th Avenue and Tyne Street.

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Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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