Sidewalks are a necessary part of pedestrian safety. So why does Sooke lack them? writes guest columnist Kara Dahmer. (Kevin Laird/Sooke News Mirror)

GUEST COMMENT: Pedestrian safety at risk due to lack of sidewalks in Sooke

Sooke’s ‘sidewalk crisis’

Kara Dahmer | Contributed

Sooke is a growing community with more tourists visiting and many people going for walks. The problem is that there’s no place for pedestrians to walk safely.

Sidewalks are a necessary part of pedestrian safety. So why does Sooke lack them?

In 2016, Sooke had a population of 13,001 people, according to Statistics Canada. The number of tourists each year is also on the rise. Most of the areas where tourists go have sidewalks, for example, the center of Sooke and the Sunriver area. Some other places don’t have sidewalks near them, such as schools.

If you walk along West Coast Road, you will notice that the sidewalk ends abruptly. According to the Sooke News Mirror, this is due to the “unofficial boat launch parking area” in the summer, by the Prestige hotel.

“The ministry, which is responsible for road, says a walkway on the south side is not acceptable due to the incompatibility with the existing unofficial boat launch parking area on the road.”

This creates a number of issues.

If there are trucks with boat trailers parked on the side of the road, then where do the pedestrians walk? They can’t walk on the road because they could be hit, but there’s no where else to walk.

Although they could walk on the other side, but there’s no crosswalk. It would not be very safe either.

At night, it’s even more dangerous. Far too many pedestrians wear dark clothing and not enough reflective gear. Without sidewalks, the chance of someone getting hit is even higher because at least with sidewalks, drivers know to be more careful since people walk there.

A theory that’s related to this topic is The Broken Window Theory invented by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling in 1982. Britannica.com says,

“They saw serious crime as the final result of a lengthier chain of events, theorizing that crime emanated from disorder and that if disorder were eliminated, then serious crimes would not occur.’

If there were more sidewalks built, then those areas would not be treated like they are nothing. People would not park there because there would be something there. It’s an issue that should be addressed. If something is not done about it, then nothing will change.

What will it take for someone to take action? Will it take someone walking down West Coast Road to get hit to give the ministry a wake up call? The answer should be no, but if nothing is done now then it is a possibility.

All of the residents of Sooke and all the tourists are at risk of being seriously injured or killed. Something has to be done and it’s going to take more than a few people to act. Sooke is a growing community that’ss lacking simple pedestrian safety measures.

So the question is: what are you going to do about it?

•••

Kara Dahmer is a Grade 10 student at Edward Milne Community School.

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