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Amherst crosswalk proving to be dangerous for pedestrians

Winnifred Gabbidon walks the crosswalk where she was almost hit for the first time in weeks.

AMHERST - It was Easter Sunday around 12 p.m. and service had just ended at the First Baptist Church. Winnifred Gabbidon grabbed a complimentary coffee and decided to take a walk.

With the coffee in hand, Gabbidon approached the crosswalk waiting to get to Tim Horton’s to enjoy her hot beverage.

What was supposed to be a routine walk across the street ended up being anything but. As the walk light signaled go, Gabbidon marched toward her destination only to be greeted by oncoming traffic.

“The truck is coming,” she thought.

She dropped everything, raised her arms and waved to get the driver’s attention.

“I didn’t know what to do, I was frightened,” she said.

The black half-ton truck suddenly stopped in front of her as she began shouting at the driver.

“Are you going to kill me this Easter Sunday?”

The driver rolled down his window.

“I’m so sorry lady,” he said quickly, before driving away.

At that moment Gabbidon realized she was lucky to walk away unharmed.

The crosswalk at the corner of Church and Victoria has been an ongoing issue for the people of Amherst. Several people said they’ve been either struck by vehicles or have been close to being hit at the location.

The root of the issue is a left turn coming from Church Street to Victoria Street. When the light turns green allowing vehicles to go, a corresponding walk light also signals, allowing walkers to go as well, creating a dangerous impasse.   

Acting police Chief Ian Naylor is aware of the concerns expressed about the crosswalk and said action is being taken.

“The town is having it reviewed again. There is a traffic engineer in the process of reviewing it now.”

The report is expected to be submitted to police in May.

Naylor said it’s a complex issue that’s not easily solved. It’s not as clear-cut as creating all-way stops because their will be longer waits for both traffic and pedestrians.

“Every time you change something it creates new problems.”

There is no perfect solution, he said.

“We’re trying to come up with the best all-around solution to protect people.”

Naylor said the one thing that everyone can do to ensure safety is to be aware of what’s going on around them.

“Pedestrians and drivers must always be vigilant.”

Since the incident, Gabbidon has avoided the crosswalk, walking two extra blocks in some cases.

She said she’s thankful nothing happened to her.

“Jesus was on my side, he saved me that day.”

With summer soon approaching and more pedestrians crossing streets, there is an increased concern for people’s safety, especially children, Gabbidon said.

“They need to stop. If they don’t stop, someone will be killed.”



Organizations: First Baptist Church

Geographic location: Amherst, Church Street, Victoria Street

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Recent comments

  • Reason
    April 24, 2013 - 08:00

    I will concede the fact that some pedestrians may be suicidal and am fine with that. My problem is most drivers approach crosswalks like they have the right of way and are unprepared to stop. Try to cross the road in front of TD bank on foot some busy afternoon and watch as a stream of traffic blithely leaves you standing there. Each one of these drivers is guilty of a criminal offense which no one seems to enforce. The following is a link to the drivers handbook This document spells out a driver's responsibility at intersections and crosswalks on page 42 and 43.

  • jr
    April 23, 2013 - 10:46

    Well, Reason, you seem to have a very strong opinion that the person in the crosswalk is always right. I am sure that if you look, you will find enough court cases that will say that a person just stepped right out in front of an oncoming vehicle and did not check traffic. A vehicle cannot always stop in time when a person steps out suddenly. This includes a light signal saying that they have a right of way. On the corner in this discussion, I have seen people just storm out of Tim Hortons and then right out into the crosswalk without ever looking to see if anything is coming. Tell me something, can your car stop that fast? If so, then you must have some new type of braking as I have over 2 million safe driving miles myself in trucks alone. The law says that the pedestrian does have the right away, but if a someone were to step out in front of you suddenly, walk light or not, you cannot always stop or predict this in a vehicle. Also, some peoples reaction times are slower so you as a pedestrian have to expect that. It all comes down to one thing. You must check the traffic before crossing.

  • jr
    April 22, 2013 - 11:33

    Reason: The issue is not just drivers. There are two sides to this. The Pedestrians think that they always have the Right of Way and they do not. Is is "always" the responsibility of the person walking to check the traffic. If there is something coming, whether you have the green light or not, you still need to always assume that they do not see you. Blame is a two part thing. As I said before, each is responsible to check traffic. Tis also goes for a person stepping ouot in front of a car and expecting them to be able to stop just because they are in a crosswalk. You still have to consider the speed and reaction time of a vehicle.

    • Reason
      April 22, 2013 - 17:30

      Not picking on you, but you do seem to be part of the problem, on a walk light pedestrians always legally have the right of way. For their personal safety, pedestrians should look and take every reasonable precaution for their safety. This fact does not eliminate the driver's legal responsibility to yield to the person with the right of way. The root of the problem is police do not regularly ticket drivers who ignore people trying to cross the street. Jay walking and other issues have nothing to do with this story, the driver was guilty of a criminal offense. While some drivers are very conscientious, an hour's observation of pedestrians and vehicle traffic show a significant portion of drivers are either ignorant or apathetic to traffic laws.

  • Reason
    April 22, 2013 - 08:32

    This article seems to insinuate that the problem is the lights. It isn't. The driver was not watching for the person (pedestrian) who had the right of way. He was completely in the wrong, same situation as the driver's that seem to ignore yield signs. The fact that is most disconcerting about this story is that it's so common. An unacceptable percentage of drivers in Amherst (including some members of the local police force) actually seem to speed up in order to try to cut off pedestrians attempting to use cross walks. If you don't believe me try walking anywhere in Amherst.

  • jr
    April 19, 2013 - 07:50

    Whether there is a green light or not, a lot of pedestrians walk without ever checking traffic. Just because the light is green does not mean that it is safe to cross. You can not always say that the driver is responsable and I know that is not what is meant but watch some time how many people just stroll right out into a crosswalk thinking that no matter what, they have the right of way. A car may be going too fast for the distance between themselves and the crosswalk to be able to safely come to a stop but yet the pedestrian doesn't see it that way. Also, because we are in a small town, people don't really care whether or not they check traffic and the police do not enforce the laws for pdestrians when it comes to "J-Walking" as I have watched people walk right out in front of a police cruiser and all they did was come to a quick stop and then go again.

    • Reason
      April 22, 2013 - 08:37

      On a crosswalk, they do have the right of way. It is a driver's legal responsibility to be prepared to stop. If a driver is approaching a crosswalk at a speed where he can't stop, he is completely in the wrong. This situation is no different then a driver who ignores a yield sign.

  • Lori
    April 18, 2013 - 11:02

    It is true pedestrians and drivers both need to be aware, however, as drivers have we not been taught that pedestrians have the right away. That means if thy have a green light and the driver does as well, the pedestrian has the right away!

  • first last
    April 18, 2013 - 09:23

    The runners crossing at Church and Robert Angus to take the sidewalk down towards Walmart are also regularly endangered by the constant stream of people who run that stop sign. Maybe repainting the lines would help there?

  • jr
    April 18, 2013 - 07:43

    This goes for both pedestrians and drivers. It is still imprtant to watch for traffic. Just because the light signal says go, it does not mean that it is safe. Remember what your parents taught you, "check each way before crossing". Drivers also need to pay more attention as they drive as if they are invincible. Even though you are in a big metal vehicle, it does not mean you can scare someone off the crosswalk. Saying this, there are far too many people that just walk out where there is no crosswalk and expect a vehicle to just stop as they think they are in the right. Post a policeman there in plain clothes for a few days and get some of the repeat offenders be it both pedestrians and drivers and see if that will wake some people up.

  • Bob
    April 17, 2013 - 22:58

    OMG! Having all traffic stop would create a problem! A major traffic jam in busy downtown Amherst! The only problem would be the loungers in Tim's getting self conscious because of all the gawkers!

  • Traffic Wise
    April 17, 2013 - 22:41

    I agree with both comments about" Pedestrians and drivers need to be vigilant" But if the town would only put in a walk signal light and have traffic in both directions stoped with a red light,would help a lot too.

  • Jenn
    April 17, 2013 - 19:13

    Pedestrians must always attempt to do the same - make eye contact with the drivers. Most drivers will look right at you and keep going driving towards you. Even jogging with a dog, I have had many close calls. Drivers need to wake up and pay attention to the people crossing the streets and using the sidewalks... P.S. Do NOT roll your window down so your dog can bark at the dog jogging down the street!!!!!

  • trafficlady
    April 17, 2013 - 19:07

    I agree with the statement "Pedestrians and drivers need to be vigilant". Speaking from the point of view of someone who has to drive this route twice daily. I witness on a daily basis while approaching the intersection coming up the street(from the rail road tracks) and making a right hand turn on to church street, people without the walk signal coming from the Tim Hortons area just walking out onto the street. I also witness constantly drivers coming from the Scotia bank end approaching the intersection with a green light wanting to make a left turn on to Church street not stopping for me who also has the green light and making a right turn. I have been almost hit side on numerous times and these people look at me like I am doing something wrong. Go back and read your drivers hand books people.You are suppose to be yielding to the person making the right hand turn. It's really not that difficult.