While cyclists have long complained about the perils of sharing the road with Kelowna drivers, it appears pedestrians may have something in common with local pedal pushers.
At least Carlanne Huber thinks so, to the point where she and her husband and two kids are packing up and leaving town, moving to what she feels is the more pedestrian-friendly confines of Vernon.
Huber, who lives in Calgary where her husband works in the oil and gas industry, has been coming to the Okanagan since she was a kid, Her father is retired here and the couple have owned a house here for several years.
The same week Huber contacted me to voice her frustration at the degrading driving habits of local drivers, a highway improvement volunteer was struck and killed on Shannon Lake Road, and another pedestrian was struck by an SUV and killed in the Orchard Park Mall parking lot crosswalk.
Huber said her worst exposure to danger came while standing in the middle of Richter. With one driver stopping to allow them to cross the road, drivers heading in the opposite direction wouldn’t extend the same courtesy, leaving them standing in the middle of the road.
“I had never been so disgusted in my life. People are blowing past me while I’m standing in the middle of the road with my two kids. I know they see me because I see the drivers looking at my kids and smiling at how cute they are, but they don’t stop,” Huber said.
On one occasion, Huber flipped the bird at one ignorant driver, only to have the passenger stick their arm out the window and give her the finger right back. Another time, Huber was so upset, she grabbed a rock at the side of the road to throw at the car, only to be stopped by her five-year-old son, who innocently asked her, “Mommy, what are you doing with that rock?”
Huber voiced her frustration to the Kelowna RCMP, who said they can’t do much unless she gets the license plate number of a vehicle not granting the right-of-way to pedestrians.
“I know in Calgary the police wouldn’t do anything, so when I heard that I thought, ‘Yea, right.’ But I know someone who had the police come to her home and give her a ticket for a traffic violation, so they actually will do that here. But the problem is getting a license plate number when you’re trying to cross the street with two kids.”
Huber said drivers aren’t as bad in Calgary as they are in Kelowna, nor the several European countries Huber has spent time in when her husband was playing professional hockey.
“My dad says the police should have pedestrian decoys and give out tickets for drivers rather than hiding in the bushes to catch speeders. I don’t understand why people are in such a hurry here. My dad just says, ‘It’s a Kelowna thing.’”
But that “Kelowna thing” has chased the Hubers out of town, afraid of becoming another pedestrian fatality statistic.