Today, while waiting for Lens and Shutter to open, I decided to photograph the pedestrian/bicycle overpass that crosses Highway 97. When this overpass went up last year I was surprised at the number of complaints I heard about it. "I've never seen anyone use it." "What a waste of municipal dollars." It always amazes me when people make sweeping judgements about things based on their own limited experience.
Regarding the latter, the project was funded by the Build Canada Fund, the Province of BC, the federal Gas Tax, the private sector and yes, the City of Kelowna. With regards to never seeing anyone use it, I ask "How many times a day do you drive under it?" and "Why are you looking at the overpass and not the road in front of you?" Which kind of explains why there's a need for it. The 2009 Kelowna Community Snapshot reported 2700 vehicular accidents a year and seven of the top ten intersections where these accidents happen involve Hwy 97.
The most recent info I can find on the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia's (ICBC's) website is from 2007 where it says that in Kelowna, there were 1,861 accidents involving pedestrians, resulting in seventy four deaths. Driver inattentiveness lead to 30.3% of these accidents and 14.4% were caused by pedestrian error/confusion. Only 4.4% involved alcohol. In the same year there were 896 collisions involving bicycles resulting in ten deaths.
In the ten minutes or so I stood taking photographs at 9:15 this morning, five pedestrians and one cyclist used the walkway. My daughter tells me a friend of hers uses it every weekday to get to work. I believe this overpass is long overdue and if it saves one life, it's worth the cost. But that's just a sweeping judgement based on my limited experience.