Friday, August 22, 2008

local news on pedestrian fatality on Governor's

Ongoing safety concerns plague Ogilvie intersection

89-year-old struck and killed crossing street last week

Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News.
Published on Aug 22, 2008

Pedestrian safety concerns about the intersection of Governor's Road and Ogilvie Street were raised at a Downtown Dundas Transportation Master Plan public meeting 10 weeks before 89-year-old Marjorie Rivers was struck and killed by a truck just west of the intersection.

City of Hamilton staff is reviewing several possible recommendations to improve safety for pedestrians at Ogilvie and Governor's, a busy area for residents of two high-rise apartment buildings and hundreds of seniors.

Hamilton police continue an investigation of the accident, which has already led to a careless driving charge against an unnamed 55-year-old Dundas man. A coroner's investigation also continues.

Advance left turns in up to four directions, road widening, a roundabout, and timing adjustments of pedestrian and traffic signals are among recommendations a city staff committee is reviewing. Project co-coordinator Natasha D'Souza said feasible recommendations will be brought to a fall public meeting. On June 5, the intersection was the subject of several public comments during a presentation on preliminary studies of transportation in the centre of Dundas.

Governor's and Ogilvie was one of only two Dundas intersections projected to be a problem in both low population growth and high population growth.

According to a summary of public comments from the meeting, "special attention" was requested for this particular intersection "because many seniors are crossing there." One resident reported a near accident at the intersection while traveling to the transportation meeting that very night. Another comment noted excessive traffic volumes at Governor's and Ogilvie and requested "pedestrian crossing provisions."

Mrs. Rivers was apparently returning home to her apartment in Governor's Estates at 50 Governor's Rd. after a shopping trip to the grocery store on the northeast corner of the busy intersection, about 11:35 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 14.

She was struck by a Union Gas truck turning left onto Governor's Road from Ogilvie Street and proceeding westbound on Governor's away from Dundas. She suffered head and chest injuries. Some of her belongings remained scattered on the sidewalk, past the marked crosswalk.

Mrs. Rivers was taken by paramedics to Hamilton General Hospital, the destination for all adult trauma injuries. The trip took 11 minutes, passing McMaster University Medical Centre on the way, arriving at the hospital at 12:09 p.m. Hamilton Emergency Medical Services reported no delay in getting Mrs. Rivers to the trauma team.

Mrs. Rivers died the next afternoon. The cause of death has not been released.

For area residents, the dangers of walking in the area of Governor's Road and Ogilvie Street are well-known.

When he heard about Mrs. Rivers, Governor's Green apartment resident Andy Cranbury immediately thought it was an elderly woman in his building, at 101 Governor's Rd. who walks to the same grocery store nearly every day.

"We support a delayed (or) advanced light at Ogilvie because at certain times of the day, making left turns from any direction can be difficult," said Mr. Cranbury, a board member of the Governor's Green Tenant's Association.

He noted several threats to pedestrians in the area, particularly the many seniors who walk there.

"This area requires full attention regardless of whether you are walking or driving," he said. "...all the distractions for drivers and walkers, looking both ways, knowing you must move when the opening allows, not wanting to wait another light or two, adds to the danger.

"Walking and bicycle riding along these areas is a life-threatening venture at the best of times. In an era of encouragement of physical fitness, walking and biking, speed limits are not being lowered. I guess it's a matter of respect for one another for the laws of physics. You know, a vehicle doesn't have to be going very fast to inflict serious damage on a human body."

Safety problems

Dundas resident and transit activist Randy Kay discussed pedestrian safety problems at Governor's and Ogilvie last summer on his Governor's Road weblog.

At the time, Mr. Kay suggested wider sidewalks at Ogilvie and Governor's, noting the existing pedestrian walkways are too narrow, and only exist on one side of Ogilvie.

"And why aren't we talking about traffic calming here?" he wrote.

"Think boldly. Eliminate one bridge (on Ogilvie, north of Governor's) and open Spencer Creek to view. It would make the intersection more beautiful, not to mention safer."

Mr. Kay stated closing the bridge would eliminate some turning problems for vehicles trying to turn west onto Governor's from Ogilvie -- the same turn that ended in Mrs. Rivers' death last week.

He observed drivers attempting that maneuver "often aggressively turn to make the short green light."

Rod Aitchison of the City of Hamilton's traffic engineering department said there is no advance left turn signal in any direction at Governor's Road and Ogilvie. He said pedestrians are also permitted to cross on a green light, while traffic can turn left through their path.

"The timing of the pedestrian signal meets the required standards," Mr. Aitchison said. "The amount of time is tailored to the specific intersection."

He would not say how long drivers have to complete a left turn or how long pedestrians have to cross the street, and how those times compare to other intersections.

Mr. Kay, also a member of Transportation for Livable Communities, said the group opposes "so-called" roadway improvements that would include two-way left-turn lanes along Governor's Road and widening of Governor's Road.

He said the closure of Ogilvie Street north of Governor's Road is his own idea.

"It would allow the extension of a pedestrian area along Artist's Way right up to the creek at Governor's. With all the senior residences there, it would aid the elderly in accessing shopping in a safer environment."

Dr. Jack Stanborough, the regional supervising coroner, said all non-natural deaths are investigated by the coroner's office.

He said the decision to bypass the closest hospital at McMaster and take Mrs. Rivers to Hamilton General was the right one.

"If she was my mother, I would have wanted her triaged and treated the way she was," Dr. Jack Stanborough said.

He noted the pedestrian safety issues at the intersection, and also said the cause of Mrs. Rivers' death would not be released without consent from her next-of-kin.

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