Sunday, June 08, 2008

trail story

Transportation group asks for Cootes Trail safety improvements

Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News,
Published on Jun 06, 2008

A community transportation group has asked the City of Hamilton to install a reflective bollard, or post, between Cootes Drive and a pedestrian path where it intersects with Olympic Drive.

Last week's request by Transportation for Livable Communities representative and Dundas resident Anita Toth came 42 days after Jennifer Skingley was struck from behind by a vehicle as she walked her family dog Holly along the paved pedestrian trail.

Police announced this week the driver of the vehicle will not be charged.

Ms. Skingley was taken to hospital with a concussion. She suffered headaches several weeks after the incident and received ongoing treatment. Holly, a two-year-old Australian cattle dog, was pulled under a wheel. One of her back legs was later amputated.

An unnamed driver accessed the Cootes pedestrian trail as he turned left from Olympic Drive.

"The intersection in question has no signs or barriers indicating that cars are not permitted on this path," Ms. Toth stated in the letter. "Instead, there is a wide, paved section which leads from the road to the path, which can cause confusion for out-of-town or new-to-town individuals."

She notes signs indicating motorized vehicles are not permitted on the pedestrian path are only found once a person is actually on the path.

Ms. Toth and TLC request installation of "a soft, break-away style, yellow reflective bollard, at least 150 centimetres tall" in the centre of the paved section.

The letter suggests placing the bollard no closer than 100 centimetres to the edge of the pedestrian path, and at least 200 centimetres from the edge of the Cootes Drive curb lane, "along with an appropriate sign indicating no access for motor vehicles."

Police determined early in the now seven week long investigation that alcohol was not a contributing factor to the driver entering the pedestrian path at Olympic Drive. He reportedly drove nearly two kilometres along the path before striking the McMaster University student.

Hamilton Police Service spokesperson Sergeant Terri-Lynn Collings said there will be no charges laid against the driver, under the Highway Traffic Act.

But it doesn't appear police are completely finished with the case.

"Police are looking at other ways of dealing with this," Sgt. Collings said. "We will be searching other venues."

She would not elaborate on what other options police might have.

A city staff member said last week the traffic department was reviewing the April 19 incident to see what could be done to prevent it from happening again.

But traffic staff would not comment further, citing pending litigation by Jennifer Skingley's father, Malcolm.

City parks staff say park bylaws do not permit vehicles in parks or on pedestrian trails, but related signage is the responsibility of the traffic department.

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