Anyone who regularly drives, walks or cycles on Salt Spring knows all about near misses.
A near miss could have happened when coming around a corner and unexpectedly encountering a vehicle, bike rider or pedestrian in one’s path. It could have taken place on a dark and rainy night when a walker cloaked in black was discernible only at the last minute on the shoulder of a Salt Spring road. Whatever the situation, we’ve all felt unsafe on any number of occasions and counted our lucky stars that we did not hit someone or were not hit by them.
Last Monday afternoon a Salt Spring cyclist and a vehicle driver had no lucky stars to count. They collided when the driver turned left across Fulford-Ganges Road as the cyclist was coming down the hill.
The cyclist, Peter Freeman, who is in hospital facing major surgery and a long period of rehabilitation, is a member of the Salt Spring Sneakers running club. Wanting to do whatever they could to help prevent another such accident, Freeman’s Sneakers compatriots have set up a social media-anchored awareness campaign. Called #SeeMe, the campaign asks cyclists, walkers and horse riders to take a photo of themselves wearing high-visibility outfits and to post those photos to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with the #SeeMe hashtag.
The #SeeMe initiative follows the RCMP’s March-long campaign to discourage distracted driving — illegal use of smart phones for texting or talking while people are behind the wheel — which continues to be a major source of crashes in B.C.
As the Sneakers’ Susan Gordon points out in this week’s Driftwood, with another tourist season ramping up, the likelihood of collisions rises with more people and vehicles on the island. That visitors are unfamiliar with Salt Spring’s twisty and often shoulder-less roads exponentially increases the accident risk. It means residents who drive must give themselves hefty injections of patience before they venture out on island roads. It means those who walk or cycle need to be more careful and more visible than ever before.
The last time pedestrian visibility became a major public issue on Salt Spring, it seemed to result in more people embracing illumination of some kind when they went out at night. Let’s hope that #SeeMe has a similar impact.