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.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

sad update: pedestrian struck dies

89-year-old woman dead after being hit by utility vehicle

DUNDAS - An elderly woman has died in hospital after being hit by a utility company pickup truck late last week.

The 89-year-old woman succumbed to her injuries around 4 p.m. Friday, confirmed Det. Const. Bob Blankstein with the Hamilton Police’s Collision Reconstruction Unit.

Police would not release her name today.

She was struck when crossing Governor’s Road at Ogilvie Street around 11:35 a.m. Thursday by a Union Gas vehicle.

The pickup, heading northbound, turned left onto Governor’s Road, where it struck the woman who was crossing the street on a green light, police said.

She was hit on the left side of her body, suffering head and chest injuries, Blankstein said.

She was taken to Hamilton General Hospital Thursday and remained in critical condition until she died.

Officers with the Collision Reconstruction Unit are still interviewing witnesses who saw the accident.

No charges have been laid at this point in time, Blankstein said.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

bad news on Governor's

Elderly pedestrain struck in Dundas

An 89-year-old Dundas woman is in hospital with significant head and chest injuries after she was struck while crossing Governor’s Road at Ogilvie Street just before noon today.

Police have not released the woman’s condition yet but say she is undergoing a CAT scan to determine the extent of her head injuries. According to Staff Sergeant Dominic Palmier, a northbound Union Gas utility pickup turning left onto Governor’s Rd. collided with the woman who was crossing Governor’s Rd. on the green light.

“The pedestrian had stepped off the curb and had taken a couple of steps when she was struck,” Palmier said.

The intersection will remain closed in all directions for the rest of the afternoon.

falling in love (with water falls)

Immediately after work on Thursday, two of us decide to embark on an adventure to Sherman Falls, despite severe thunderstorm warnings.

The 5C bus that comes through the McMaster campus takes us up Wilson Street to Rousseau Street in Ancaster, a 15 minute ride to “probably the most confusing intersection you will ever find” according to my travel companion (make sure you push the pedestrian crossing button); but a few steps away, by the parking lot for the swank Ancaster Old Mill restaurant, we find ourselves already on the Heritage trail in the Dundas Conservation Area.

Throughout the next two hours, my walking pal lets me in on a few of his hiking secrets and some basic trail etiquette: like, in my attempts to circumvent puddles, he humbly suggests staying on the designated trail and preserving the sensitive natural areas bordering it. Or a lesson on identifying a sturdy walking stick is instilled and exemplified as we, now with three legs each, follow the Heritage trail until it meets up with the famous Bruce Trail. We follow the Bruce north (right) along the edge of deeply cut, tree-filled valleys, with some stunning glacial debris in the form of large moss covered rocks littering the way.

This route to Sherman Falls normally takes about 40 minutes at an easy pace, but we are put off our mark by the ominous approach of a thunder storm (the warnings, it turned out, were accurate). As the sky darkens and rain starts to filter down through the rich canopy of leaves, we scrimmage for shelter. We find ourselves huddled between two rocks, with a space just snugly made for two, at least until the rain dies down. An attempt at pitching a windbreaker over the space serves to cover only slightly more territory than a Fortino’s shopping bag would. Fortunately, I am able to produce an umbrella which provides enough shelter for us both, at least for the short term.

As soon as the rain dies down, we sprout ourselves from our subterranean hiding only to find that if we had walked a couple metres further, my backpack and all its contents might have been completely dry: a cliff with a cave-like four-foot overhang and fresh shoe marks in the mud tastefully makes the point that someone out there is much luckier, and drier, than the both of us.

not falling

We descend a short way down the valley, and with concentrating on not slipping, I don't realize until I look up that we have already arrived at the base of Sherman’s Falls. It's 17 meters of free-falling beauty that made me almost glad it has been raining every other day this summer, thus allowing us to see Sherman Falls in all its full-flow glory.

Our hike back was as equally eventful as our journey there. We agreed to discard the grip of our footgear and hike part of the muddy trail bare-foot , “hobbit-style”. And although my birks still trek in mud marks wherever I go, it was totally worth it.

(Guest columnist Sarah Kam is part of
Transportation for Liveable Communities.
TLC will be leading a bus and hike from McMaster University
to Sherman Falls during Car Free Week,
on Car Free Day, September 22, 2008.
TLC's web site for more info)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

get out!

Yeah, sure, summer is here now, but it won't be for long - yet the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail beckons, and the side trails disappearing into the verdant forests on either side of the main trail entice the curious into adventures and explorations that lead, well, who knows? Or just pull over and watch the world run, cycle and walk by from the well-placed benches (no motor vehicles of course) or at the Trail Centre in Dundas Valley.

You don't have to go all the way, but what's to stop you...?
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