It’s narrow. It’s got telephone poles sticking out of it. It’s a hair’s breadth away from traffic. And it’s been awarded the title of the “jankiest” sidewalk in Greater Victoria.
The dubious honour is bestowed annually by a Victoria group, Walk On, Victoria, that takes photo submissions of janky — that is, poor quality — sidewalks every June, then holds a vote to determine the worst.
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This year’s “Janky June” winner, located on Landowne Road opposite Camosun College in Saanich, was snapped by Chad Gaucher.
“I’ve always just noticed how terrible this sidewalk is. I see a lot of people coming by here and struggling with it,” Gaucher said.
“My whole foot is probably longer than the sidewalk is (wide).”
The presence of a telephone pole embedded in the middle of the roughly 40-centimetre-wide pathway often forces people to step into the road to walk around it, he added.
“And when there’s two lanes of traffic coming, there’s not a lot of room for the cars to move over, so it’s a very awkward situation,” he said.
“When I was actually submitting my photo I got lucky enough for a bus to be coming by right as I was taking my photos, and it was quite scary actually, with the wind blowing me over almost.”
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Walk On, Victoria advocates for pedestrian safety and infrastructure.
Group member Ariel Guetta said the contest is a way to poke fun at the situation, while bringing real attention to areas that need upgrades.
“We’re hoping just to bring attention for the need to improvements in infrastructure and safety for pedestrian,” Guetta said.
“One of our biggest aims is to ensure that pedestrians are getting the same level of consideration that cars do when improvements are being made to the road.”
Guetta said the cheeky competition does appear to get results: A local city councillor has already been in touch with the group to get more information about this year’s “winning” sidewalk.
Ironically, according to Guetta last year’s winning entry was submitted by Saanich’s new mayor, Dean Murdoch.
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“What I appreciate about the Janky June contest is it raises the profile of these kinds of concerns for people who are walking, riding, maybe using a mobility device or pushing a stroller,” Murdock said.
“There are some issues in Saanich where it is very challenging to get around safely, and we appreciate that this is a way to keep that at the forefront of people’s minds and making it a priority to make infrastructure safer for everyone.”
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Murdock, who was elected in last October’s mayoral election, said the city is currently in the consultation and planning phase of its first-ever Road Safety Action Plan, which is taking public input on “points of concern” in the city’s infrastructure that need upgrades.
This year’s jankiest sidewalk, however, might not make the cut for priority fixes — Murdock noted that it was directly across the street from a two-way pathway, meaning there could be other blocks in the city of a higher priority, safety wise.
Meanwhile, Gaucher — along with bragging rights for having documented the city’s worst sidewalk — will walk away with a $50 prize.
But to hear him tell it, bringing attention to the problem is prize enough.
“I really just wanted to raise awareness about how dangerous this sidewalk can be,” he said.
“I’m really happy walk on Victoria is doing this contest every year, because I think it will keep raising awareness about dangerous sidewalks and infrastructure … before an accident happens.”
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