Craig Severn said he does not feel safe crossing streets in Maple Ridge after being hit and having numerous close encounters with vehicles. He wants to see more pedestrian controlled crosswalks. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

Maple Ridge scooter driver hit in crosswalk for third time

RCMP say pedestrians should take extra caution this time of year

Craig Severn is nervous in venturing out into a crosswalk after having been hit for the third time while in his mobility scooter.

The latest incident was about two weeks ago. A partial paraplegic, he still gets around in his scooter. Severn got a coffee at the McDonald’s Restaurant on Lougheed Highway, then started north across the road.

“I got about six feet out, and this lady drove into me,” he said.

She was eastbound on the Lougheed, looking to the left, and turning right onto 228th Street.

It was a terrifying incident, where he was being pushed by her car, and had to yell to get the driver to stop.

“I was instantly angry with her, I probably scared her,” he said. “I asked her for her licence and registration, and off she goes. Shame on her, for hitting and running.”

READ MORE: Woman thrown from mobility scooter in Sidney crash

Severn has been hit twice before, about three years ago, on back-to-back days.

The first time, he was in a power wheelchair crossing Dewdney Trunk Road downtown, when he was hit by a car and knocked to the ground, skidding underneath a gravel truck. He was not seriously hurt, as the driver locked up his brakes.

“The driver got out and threw up. He thought he had squashed me,” said Severn.

The next day, a driver clipped him and spun his wheelchair around. “It destroyed my power chair.”

In each case, he said, the drivers left the scene.

From his perspective, the best investment city hall has made are pedestrian-controlled intersections. The crosswalk where he was hit on Dewdney Trunk now has the flashing lights he can activate, and they bring traffic safely to a halt.

He said more of them are needed throughout the city.

He’s recently been involved in two other close calls at crosswalks, including one where a woman made an illegal left-hand turn coming out of the Walmart parking lot onto 224th Street, and again almost hit him in the crosswalk.

“Nobody is paying attention. I’m scared to go out.”

His message is most relevant at this time of year, and the Ridge Meadows RCMP recently completed a pedestrian safety campaign, giving out reflective materials.

ICBC reports that 43 per cent of all crashes with pedestrians happen during October to January, due to the decrease in daylight hours and weather changes – increased rainfall – that makes visibility difficult during commute times.

Ridge Meadows RCMP Sgt. Brenda Gresiuk said mobility scooters move faster than pedestrians, and might appear in a crosswalk in front of a driver unexpectedly.

She said users should take the same approach as pedestrians, and make sure they make eye contact with drivers before driving into the crosswalk.

It is also important have reflectors on the scooter, use crosswalks and to wear bright clothing or reflective vests.

“We do see an increase in pedestrian accidents at this time of year, unfortunately,” she said. “See and be seen.”

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