You’re seeing new technology for Edmonton on city streets. Flashing pedestrian crossing lights have been installed at thirty locations. The goal is to make it so you’re more visible to drivers. City officials showed one of them off at one of the more notorious locations, at 109 street and 85th avenue in Old Strathcona.
“Vision Zero is about reducing those opportunities for fatalities, and serious injuries,” said Coun. Bev Esslinger. “And we know that if we decrease speed, pedestrians have a better chance.”
This one location over the past five years has seen 73 collisions, mainly from ‘following too close.’ In those stats, there have been two incidents in the past year of pedestrian injuries.
— Global Edmonton (@GlobalEdmonton) November 15, 2016
“We want to add any kind of measure that’s going to improve safety opportunities for people,” Esslinger said. “We still have to take personal responsibility whether you’re a driver or a pedestrian we need to be aware of our surroundings. But this is going to aid in that.”
“Given the speed limit of the vehicle, the number of pedestrians that use this crossing, the number of lanes that they have to cross, and the collision statistics,” Shawker Ibrahim explained as the criteria for the selection. The traffic safety engineer for the Office of Traffic Safety said numbers will carry the day in what locations they select.
“What we’re trying to do now is really make sure that we’re doing an evidence based approach, making sure that we’re focusing a lot more on the injury and fatal collisions, especially the major injuries to make sure we’re limiting these numbers and reducing them to zero which is the goal that the city is working towards and make sure that we’re providing protection for the pedestrians at locations where they need them the most.”
The event marked the end of year one, of the ten year Vision Zero program. Intersection improvements in 2016 included upgrades to 13 pedestrian crosswalks, installation of 15 turn-on-the-arrow-only left-turn signals, and redesign of three right-turn channels.
Installation of more than 50 new driver feedback signs that flash the number if the speed is over the limit to tell drivers how fast they’re going, and upgrades in 13 school zones were also completed. Another 24 schools are planned for next year for installation of things like zebra crossings painted on the road to make children more visible.
Funding for these roadway safety upgrades came from the Traffic Safety Reserve Fund, which gets its money from photo radar revenue.
Also new this year are driver feedback boxes, where cameras are hidden in things like containers that look like utility boxes and the like. “I understand that there’s been about 100 of those installed. That’s just another measure that we’re using,” Esslinger said. They do not issue tickets – just make the city aware of driving habits.
“Where we’ve had them we’ve seen a reduction in the speeds. That’s one tool that we use particularly in areas where we have a lot of short cutting, they’re very valuable when we see people speeding through neighborhoods as well as other areas of the city.”
(sj-with files from Kendra Slugoski)