The death of an 86-year-old man walking his dog on a Dallas roadside Thursday night and several close calls himself prompted Kenneth Johnny to seek some answers Friday.
Johnny lives in a Valleyview motel and walks to the downtown every morning in search of a job, food and companionship.
But during the past weeks, as dawn has come later, dusk has come earlier and snow has accumulated on the roadsides, he has become more watchful and fearful.
Johnny clips a multi-bulb flashlight onto his baseball cap so he’s visible from the front. He has reflective strips on his backpack and his coat.
And yet he’s still had close calls as SUVs have whizzed along the frontage road he walks on to get to downtown.
There is a painted line along that road that’s supposed to set aside an area where pedestrians can walk. But Johnny said it’s covered with snow in places — piled in some spots — and some drivers don’t seem to be aware of it at all.
He’s had to jump out of the way a few times and he’d like to see drivers slow down and pay attention.
“I don’t see why people should be doing 50 going down a side street when it’s snowing. They just fly through there,” he said Friday.
“I’ve almost been hit.”
His calls to the City didn’t turn up any answers. He was eventually told to call the RCMP, but he hasn’t been able to see well enough to get any licence plates, so he felt it was pointless.
“I got the runaround so much,” he said.
City streets supervisor Joe Luison said the pedestrian walkway on that frontage is the responsibility of the municipality to keep clear. When snow falls, the first task is to clear the streets and the walkway comes later.
But the City does work to clear the walkways, too, he said. Raised sidewalks are the responsibility of the businesses and residents whose property abuts them.
City transportation co-ordinator Colleen Lepik said pedestrians, cyclists and drivers have to be more careful at this time of year when daylight arrives late and disappears early.
She said Johnny is doing the right thing by wearing a light and reflective strips on his clothing.
“The more visible people can be, the better, particularly with the dawn and dusk hours and darker weather,” she said.
He’s also walking on a stretch of road where there are a lot of driveways to access fast-food restaurants and other highway-side businesses.
“It is tough with the painted walkways, the snow does pile up and we get windrows there. The plow crews do try to clear them off because they should be accessible for people,” she said.
“With the snow conditions and the lighting, it does become a bit of a hazard.”’
Pedestrians are also advised to carry a flashlight or some other device that flashes in the dark.
The City is running a Get Your Glow On campaign to raise awareness about being visible out on the streets at night.
“Pedestrians, cyclists and motorists should all be aware of their surroundings,” said Lepik.