Monday, April 23, 2012

Fredericton study calls for more zebra crosswalks


20 Apr 2012 03:42AM
(Excerpts from the original article published April 20, 2012)
A new pedestrian safety report is recommending zebra, or striped crosswalk markings, be installed at more than 100 locations on Fredericton’s streets.
The report, by Opus Consultants, also recommends right-hand turns on red lights be eliminated at some of the city’s more dangerous intersections for pedestrians.
But the report, which was received by Fredericton’s transportation committee Thursday, recommends against re-implementing scramble crosswalks.
The report identified 46 pedestrian safety issues and recommended 25 countermeasures in three categories: pedestrian and driver behaviour, maintenance and infrastructure improvements.
“We’re really happy with the product we got,” said Fredericton traffic engineer Darren Charters after the committee meeting.
“Opus took a look across the country, their own experience in the city and public input so they pulled together a really unique document for Fredericton.
“There is a lot of information in it.”
Fredericton has 170 marked crosswalks in four different categories.
Over the last 41/2 years there have been 127 collisions involving pedestrians in Fredericton, resulting in three fatalities and 116 injuries. Ironically, 41 per cent were at signalized intersections.
Opus found those collision statistics are in line with other jurisdictions.
Part of the study included 718 surveys on pedestrian safety issues from the public.
“That’s pretty darn impressive and reflective of how important this is for citizens,” said Mark Gunter of Opus.
He said the benefit of zebra crosswalks is improved visibility from the driver’s perspective and for pedestrians with poor vision, and better visibility in the winter and spring, even when the paint is faded or the area is covered with snow and ice.
The downside is increased cost and maintenance.
Fredericton only has zebra crosswalk markings in school zones.
The report recommended the city do a study on where it could eliminate right turns on red lights to reduce conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians.
Charters said it will be studied. “We’ve got to be careful with those,” he said. “We’ve got to educate the public (and) that really hurts the capacity of intersections. “It’s not off the table.”
Fredericton used to have scramble crosswalks in the downtown. The pedestrian report recommended against re-implementing scramble crosswalks because it reduces traffic flow by stopping traffic in all directions.
But it also causes problems for the hearing impaired, who use audio cues. The longer waits for pedestrians could result in people becoming impatient and not waiting for the crossing light, said Opus.
“I’m not surprised,” said Charters. “There’s a reason they were taken out all over North America in the ‘90s.”
Other report recommendations include improving pedestrian safety, adjusting signal timings, adding more refuge islands and redesigning right turn slip lanes to slow down traffic.
Charters said he expects to come back to transportation committee by June with an implementation strategy.

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