Crosswalk safety advocates call for safer signalized crosswalks
HALIFAX -- Crosswalk safety advocates are calling on the city to do more to improve safety for pedestrians, particularly at crosswalks with signal lights.
That's after a 75-year-old has died of his injuries after being hit by a pickup truck while he was in a crosswalk.
Halifax Regional Police responded to the intersection of Young Street and Kempt Road after receiving reports of a vehicle/pedestrian collision last Tuesday.
Police say the man was crossing Young Street at a lit crosswalk when a pickup truck struck him while turning east onto Young Street from Kempt Road.
The man driving was issued a Summary Offence Ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
It's the kind of news Norm Collins hears about too often.
"We're here again after the fact, reacting. Responding as opposed to taking action to actually make things safer," says Collins.
Collins is president of the Crosswalk Safety Society, which advocates for education and change to make streets safer for pedestrians.
He says collisions involving pedestrians have an effect that goes beyond the people directly involved.
"I know someone who was struck in a marked crosswalk and she was in the hospital for a couple of weeks, rods in her legs, when she came home, she spent the next three months in her bed," he says. "Her sister had to move down from New Brunswick to look after her."
"And I do feel for the driver, who is no doubt suffering…trauma," he adds, referring the man driving the pickup in the collision last Tuesday.
"The reach of these collisions is considerable, and that's all the more reason to do whatever we can to try and see that the collision never happens in the first place."
According to the Society, eleven pedestrians have died after being struck by a vehicle since 2018 in the Halifax area. All the victims were over sixty years of age.
Seventy-year-old Carl Myers knows what it's like to have a close call in a crosswalk. Last year, he was crossing at the signalized intersection of Young and Windsor Street.
"I was crossing, and it was during the rush hour," he recalls. "Cars were making left turns, and the person was looking at traffic coming, and I was mid-block, and he came very close to hitting me, I had to quickly move out of the way.”"
He now avoids using that crossing.
"There's some clear areas that pedestrians will tell you that it's unsafe to cross at," he says.
"Close to a half of all collisions that have happened in HRM over the past three years have happened at intersections, so that's a key location," says Collins.
He notes there has been some progress - with the city implementing new measures such leading pedestrian intervals at some crosswalks, allowing citizens more time to cross before traffic resumes.
But Collins says other jurisdictions are doing more.
"I was reading a study that in the New England states, half of the states have exclusive pedestrian signals," he says. "So essential the vehicles are allowed to go straight, but there's no turning while the pedestrians are crossing."
He would like to the city look at implementing that.
The vice-chair of the city's Transportation Standing Committee says the committee is open to exploring more ideas on making crossings safer.
"It's a combination of everything that creates these accidents," she says.
"The good news is that people are thinking about it, they're sending us emails, they're saying we have to do better, and I agree with them."
Members of Halifax's crosswalk safety community are scheduled to make a presentation to the committee on the topic next month.