What we learned about traffic crashes in Edmonton

We live our lives, run errands, go to the park, commute to work, head to school. We come from all corners of Edmonton and make our way across the city, stop by our favourite shop and say hello to neighbours. We get behind steering wheels, hop on bikes, roll to the bus stop, head down sidewalks or climb into the cars of friends.

We expect our routines to go on being routines.

Sadly, the numbers show it doesn’t always happen that way.

Last year, 268 people were seriously injured in a crash when they left their homes. Fourteen people were killed.

So far this year, nine people have been lost to traffic crashes in Edmonton. There were five fatalities on our roads in July alone. We join in the sorrow of these tragedies and share condolences with everyone affected.

Jessica Lamarre, Director of Traffic Safety, in the Highlands neighbourhood

Data

Jessica Lamarre is the Director of Traffic Safety, for the City of Edmonton. It’s her team’s job to help get the condolences down to zero.

They’re using new data and information to do it.

“To inform the Safe Mobility Strategy, we are combining learnings from five years of collision data, census data, 311 calls and public engagement,” said Lamarre.

“We took the data and did a Crash Analysis, a High Injury Network and an Equity Analysis that are helping us to get a better picture of the places where the most crashes in Edmonton happen, and the people who are most exposed to these crashes.”

The goal is a safer city for everyone.

“Knowing what is happening on our roads is a step on the journey to creating a strategy that makes our streets safer and more livable,” said Lamarre.

That word livable

Lamarre and her team use the word “livable” a lot. It means commuting to work or school without fear, easy grocery runs, and riding bikes, scooters, or rollerblades for fun. A livable city has streets that are easy to navigate, enjoyable to travel on and where people have opportunities to connect with neighbours.

The other term they use is “safe mobility.” Safe mobility means everyone is able to get to where they are going safely regardless of their age, ability or how they get around the city.

The City of Edmonton’s draft Safe Mobility Strategy is now available for public input, here’s a sneak peak at some of the findings.

Crash Analysis

The list below outlines the top five causes of the most severe crashes and patterns identified through an analysis of all vehicle-related collisions in Edmonton.

The causes of the most severe crashes in Edmonton from 2015-2019

The Crash Analysis also revealed other patterns about what results in crashes, where they happen and who has the right of way in intersection collisions.

City teams are using data to make mobility safer for all

High Injury Network

The data-crunching has meant that, for the first time, the City has identified a High Injury Network.

“The High Injury Network shows which specific roadways and corridors have the highest concentration of serious-injury and fatal crashes for each mode of transportation—including driving a car or motorcycle, riding a bicycle and walking,” said Laura Contini, Project Manager for the Safe Mobility Strategy.

A sneak peek at the High Injury Network. The full version will be included in the Draft Safe Mobility Strategy.

Based on this network, the team has also identified a list of 15 neighbourhoods that experience the most automobile-involved crashes in our city.

Studying neighbourhoods with the most crashes is part of the Safe Mobility Strategy

“We are able to better prioritize these neighbourhoods for safety improvements as the Safe Mobility Strategy is implemented,” said Lamarre.

Inequity

It continues to be the case that some Edmontonians face a disproportionate risk of being impacted by serious and fatal crashes. You don’t have to be involved in a crash to feel the effects, including trauma from seeing or responding to a collision, feeling worried or anxious moving around your neighbourhood, or minor impacts like travel delays and noise from sirens.

This is where what’s called Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) comes into the picture.

Basically, GBA+ reminds policy makers to ask themselves who is being forgotten or overlooked when policies, programs and services are delivered for a community made up of diverse people and groups.

A recent public engagement survey showed that people’s feelings of safety varied based on mode of travel, use of a mobility aid and gender. Learnings from this have been summarized in a What We Heard Report.

A survey of 1,882 Edmontonians conducted earlier this summer included feelings of safety based on gender, mode of transportation

A previous version of this graph was mislabeled, identifying the values for ‘safe’ as ‘unsafe’, and vice versa. This was brought to our attention and replaced on September 11, 2020.

Initial public engagement also showed that Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, ethnic, linguistic, sexual, and gender minorities are more exposed to failures in the transportation system or are more likely to feel unsafe when travelling around the city.

“Everyone deserves fair access to safe streets and safe mobility,” said Lamarre. “This work will carry on through the development of the strategy, and, more importantly, will become a daily focus in how it is implemented.”

Here’s a short video with more on how inequity relates to safe mobility:

What does this mean to you?

These findings will be used to identify traffic safety problems and to tailor solutions for a safer, more livable Edmonton.

“Understanding these patterns helps us determine what types of work we need to include in the Safe Mobility Strategy in order to achieve our goal of Vision Zero by 2032,” said Lamarre.

“Sometimes that means changing the physical roadway, other times it’s updating or enforcing the rules of the road, and often, it requires a holistic, creative combination of solutions that requires everyone from the City to the public and groups and organizations to pitch in.”

A common effort

Many of the solutions will focus on reducing the consequences of driver mistakes. But safe mobility is a common effort.

“A culture of traffic safety means that our streets are for everyone, and we must look out for each other above all else,” said Lamarre. “I know Edmontonians are up to the challenge: creating safe and livable streets is built into our community spirit.”

We have outlined some key actions to take that will help us eliminate fatal and serious crashes on our streets. Give us your feedback on these actions using the survey on engaged.edmonton.ca/safestreets. Open until September 23.