City of Montreal honours hero driver who used his SUV to shield pedestrians – CTV News

City of Montreal honours \hero\ driver who used his SUV to shield pedestrians - CTV News
Montreal puts pedestrian safety first at traffic lights
Erick Marciano says he doesnt consider himself a hero for using his SUV to shield pedestrians from a speeding car last week in Montreal.

"It was just a natural thing to do," the 48-year-old said Monday, "and if I had to do it again, I would do it again."

As she presented Marciano with a certificate of honour and invited him to sign the citys Golden Book Monday, Mayor Valerie Plante praised Marcianos act of courage. Plante said he showed "remarkable heroism" when he pulled his vehicle in front of a driver fleeing police at a busy intersection.

Marciano managed to get out of his car just before the collision and wasnt hurt, but his SUV suffered serious damage in the crash with the suspects vehicle. The 19-year-old suspect was arrested and is facing several charges in connection with the incident.

"To commit such a bold act, at the risk of his personal safety, to protect the life of pedestrians is among the most admirable acts of bravery," she told journalists at city hall.

The 48-year-old father of three said he was only doing his duty when he made the split-second decision to act.

Hes always thinking about others and always puts himself before others, so its just something he does, she said at the small ceremony, which was also attended by the couples three teenage children and Marcianos parents.

He said he was sitting in his vehicle on Nov. 12 when he saw the driver barrelling towards an intersection filled with people, with police in pursuit.

His mind flashed to stories of drivers mowing down pedestrians in Europe, and he didnt want that to happen in Montreal. Honking his horn, he pulled in front of the driver.

Marciano managed to get out of his car just before the collision and wasnt hurt, but his SUV suffered serious damage in the crash with the suspects vehicle. The 19-year-old suspect was arrested and is facing several charges in connection with the incident.

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Marciano, a general contractor, said hes both amused and honoured by all the attention hes been getting. He said the last person to sign the Golden Book was world-renowned teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg — "so thats pretty cool."

"Hes always thinking about others and always puts himself before others, so its just something he does," she said at the small ceremony, which was also attended by the couples three teenage children and Marcianos parents.

He said he was sitting in his vehicle on Nov. 12 when he saw the driver barrelling towards an intersection filled with people, with police in pursuit.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante plans to install pedestrian lights and countdown timers at every set of traffic lights in the city as part of a "paradigm change" that will put pedestrian safety ahead of traffic flow.

Erick Marciano says he doesnt consider himself a hero for using his SUV to shield pedestrians from a speeding car last week in Montreal.

"What is more important: the lives of people or [for traffic] to be more fluid, in a way that it goes faster?" Plante asked Monday.

Erick Marciano signs the Golden Book alongside Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante at City Hall in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 18, 2019.

The plan, which Plante said will take five to eight years to complete, will see pedestrian signals installed at all intersections, countdown timers added to all pedestrian signals, and the time available to cross increased to accommodate "the most vulnerable road users," such as children and elderly people.

It was just a natural thing to do, the 48-year-old said Monday, and if I had to do it again, I would do it again.

The plan aims to address the two main causes of collisions that cause pedestrian deaths or serious injury: speed and the number of cars on the road.

Éric Alan Caldwell, the executive committee member responsible for urban planning and mobility, said one of the intersections the city will be studying is Décarie and de Maisonneuve Blvds., where an 89-year-old man died Friday morning after he was struck by a car near the Vendôme métro station.

In 2018, 18 pedestrians were killed and 87 seriously injured in Montreal. There have been 19 deaths already this year, including an 89-year-old man killed last week in NDG.

There are 2,300 intersections with traffic lights that are managed by the city, 315 of which already have countdown timers and require no further work.  

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The lights at every remaining intersection — 1,985 of them — will be reprogrammed to add between four to six seconds of time for pedestrians to cross, said Eric Alan Caldwell, the city's executive committee member in charge of urban planning and transit. Of those, 1,300 currently lack pedestrian signals and will be upgraded with signals and timers.

Plante noted that Quebecers have a reputation for not respecting crosswalks as much as drivers do in the rest of Canada and she stressed the importance of raising public awareness of pedestrian safety as a component of its Vision Zero road-safety program.

To fund the changes, the budget envelope for 2020 to 2022 for pedestrian lights is being increased by 43 per cent, from $42 million to $58.5 million, Plante said. 

Past city administrations have always made decisions about roads with traffic flow as the highest priority, Plante said. 

"Now we've switched it," she said. "Now it's security, and then it's fluidity, and I believe we can do both."

Caldwell said the city hopes to upgrade 250 intersections per year, with the most dangerous intersections prioritized.

It will also add four to six seconds to crossing times to ensure that pedestrians have time to cross the street, she said. The measures will cost $58.5 million over the next three years, or $19.5 million annually.

The countdown timers are based on walking speeds, Caldwell said. Road safety codes allow for walking speeds of up to 1.4 metres per second, or a reasonably brisk 5.04 kilometres per hour.  

The city uses a benchmark walking speed of 1.1 metres per second, Caldwell said, or just under four kilometres per hour.

In areas where more vulnerable pedestrians crossing the street, for example, around hospitals, schools and seniors' residences, the walking speed for the countdown signals will be set at 0.9 metres per second, or 3.24 kilometres per hour.

Montreal police Insp. André Durocher said the change will help make the roads safer for pedestrians. But it's not the only solution.

The city plans to change the lights at 2,300 intersections, at the rate of at least 250 a year — pedestrians will get an extra four to six seconds to cross.

"We need to be aware of our environment," he told Radio-Canada. He said police are planning more education campaigns to try to address the problem.

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