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Squamish campaign reflects on safety at night

Residents scoop up reflective armbands more quickly than anticipated
SAFE SCENE Squamish Mayor Rob Kirkham is encouraging nightwalkers to take responsibility for their own safety by wearing reflective clothing. Photo submitted

Squamish is taking a page out of Whistler’s playbook by promoting pedestrian and bicycle safety at night.

The District of Squamish (DOS) teamed up with the Squamish Trails Society (STS) to launch a campaign called Be Bright @ Night.

Mayor Rob Kirkham launched the initiative by encouraging Squamish residents to wear reflective clothing when out at night.

“It’s such a simple thing to do, yet so many people opt to go out at night without wearing reflective clothing,” said Mayor Kirkham. “Our evenings are dark and often wet. I encourage everyone to think about the possible repercussions before they step out the door. It doesn’t take much effort, and it can save lives.”

Central to the program was an initiative to give away reflective armbands to anyone who wanted one. Kirkham confirmed that all the armbands have been given out.

He noted that the armbands aren’t enough to make riders and walkers highly visible and should be worn with other pieces of reflective clothing.

Bob Brant, president of the STS, said another campaign is being planned for next winter.

“We are planting the seeds now for a winter-long campaign next year,” said Brant. “We are looking for the support of the community — from retailers to community and sports groups. We hope collectively we can create a culture of proactive awareness around this important safety issue.”

Kirkham praised the trail society for taking the lead on the Bright @ Night safety initiative.

“The district is really excited about being able to support them with it because it is a concern, people wandering around out at night in dark clothing,” said Kirkham. “I think we would really like encourage individuals to take responsibility to be seen. Just because you can see doesn’t mean others can see you.”

Whistler RCMP members and the Whistler Fire Rescue Services launched Walk Safe in the resort last winter.

The goal of Walk Safe is to change pedestrian behaviour and eliminate serious and fatal accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians. Candid messaging about being visible while walking on Whistler roadways at night is aimed at saving lives. The Walk Safe program in Whistler makes reflectors available to anyone who regularly walks at night in Whistler.

Constable Tara Merrie, coordinator of the initiative, said the fact that the Whistler RCMP doesn’t currently have any open files involving nighttime incidents indicates Walk Safe has been a success.

“We have noticed an increase in general visibility of our pedestrians and cyclists,” said Merrie.

Free reflectors are available in Whistler at the RCMP detachment, muni hall, the library and numerous retail outlets.