Sudbury has been rocked by two pedestrian-vehicle fatalities in the past week. Days before those fatalities, a cyclist suffered serious head injuries after being hit by a truck in Hanmer. All of these incidents are still under investigation, and while Lapalme said he is not pointing any fingers, at some point in time, someone did something they should not have done.
“As a police service, we try to stay away from the word 'accident', which implies no one was at fault, or that it was uncontrollable,” Lapalme said. “In these particular collisions, something happened that, had the one responsible for causing it given it a bit more thought, it probably wouldn't have happened.”
Again, that comes from all sides — the driver, the cyclist and the pedestrian, he said.
“It's always tragic when these incidents occur, he said. “As much as drivers have to be on the lookout for cyclists and pedestrians, there is always a responsibility on the part of the cyclist and the pedestrian to be on the lookout for vehicles and each other.”
He said he doesn't know the circumstances surrounding the fatal incidents in Greater Sudbury, but it is incumbent on both the drivers and the pedestrians to be vigilant and cognisant of what's happening around them in order to ensure their safety.
“The rules of the road apply to drivers, but they also apply to cyclists and pedestrians,” he said. “We encourage pedestrians to cross at traffic lights or a controlled intersection, but at the same time, just because the signal to cross comes on, doesn't mean you should simply walk off the curb. You have to consider there are drivers who may not be as quick to react to a red or yellow stop light.”
What it boils down to, really, he said is respecting the road and those who use it. If you're riding a bike, respect the vehicles and pedestrians; similarly, if you're driving a vehicle, respect the cyclists and the pedestrians. Not having that respect is probably what plays a big role in these collisions.
“You can't assume that a driver is going to come to a stop at a stop sign; nor, should a driver expect a cyclist is going to signal their intentions before doing so,” he said. “Expect the unexpected.”
That's a message Lapalme said he was taught when he first got behind the wheel of a vehicle, and it hasn't changed.
“Don't take it for granted that everyone respects or follows the rules of the road. I'm certainly not pointing the finger at a driver, a cyclist or a pedestrian, but we all have a role to play.”