The Crosswalk at Quinpool and Beech - one story from hundreds.
As it gets dark earlier and the weather turns worse I see the poor school kids waiting every day for indeterminate amounts of time in the rain and cold, often dashing when they get impatient because it is impossible to know, after pressing the button, how long it will take to get a walk signal..
The crossing light is being used effectively as a traffic signal. Cars waiting on Beech to get out onto Quinpool wait for the crossing light and then dart out ahead of or on the heels of the pedestrians. This happens constantly. It causes many fender benders and means walkers have to wait for the light then wait for the cars that are using the light to get onto Quinpool.
I have some ideas and suggestions to actually help awareness of crosswalks:
1/ Make the walk light change when the button is pressed. Mathematically it seems to me it would all work out in the long run.
2/ If for some mystical reason we can't do (1) add a timer light so the pedestrians know how long they would have to wait. Just like they have a timer to tell them how long they have to cross. That time, by the way, is simply not long enough for any but the most focused and healthy people to get across. NYC crossing times are double that of Halifax... what's our rush?
3/ Add real and regular traffic signals at Beech and Monastery so people can cross. It's safe and good for local business and convey to drivers that they are no longer on the highway. Want to build a 'walkable community'? Make space for people to safely walk.
4/ Add a central island to reduce the number of lanes.
5/ Enable the peak period crossing guard already on duty to control the light instead of forcing her to be a defacto child wrangler... she has the most stressful job I've ever seen.
6/ Narrow the street to one lane in each direction to calm traffic and eliminate dangerous blind spots.
7/ Install "intelligent" microwave or infrared pedestrian detectors to automatically extend the crossing time for children or other slower moving pedestrians;
8/ Remove sight obstructions such as parked cars near intersections
9/ Reduce the speed limit in pedestrian crossing areas.
10/ Install a raised crossing and zebra striping to raise dangerous crossing awareness for car and pedestrians.
11/ Improve lighting in the crossing area. This is especially problematic this time of year when it's dark so early.
12/ Post supplemental warning signs.
Today is crosswalk awareness day. It's also the day that someone will look me right in the eye and nearly run me down by either not seeing me, choosing not to stop or most astonishingly, stopping just long enough for me to get almost across the street and then gunning their engine like the start of the Indy 500.
How do I know that's today? Because I walk in Halifax and cross a dozen or so streets each day, so that's EVERY day in Halifax.
I can even tell you pretty much when it will be. It will happen in "rush hour" which in Halifax is not traffic or time of day but during the hours between 3:30 and 5:30pm when people who must have a lot slacker jobs than me are rocketing out of or into the downtown with what's happening on the road around them as the LAST thing on their mind.
"The city has launched another round of Heads Up Halifax, its campaign to 'help raise awareness about the responsibility shared by drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians when it comes to crossing the street safely,'" writes Erica Butler in the Halifax Examiner. "As a mandate for a safety campaign, it’s a poor one."
Butler goes on to note that there are two kinds of responsibility — the responsibility we each have for ourselves, and the responsibility we have for each other. The Heads Up Halifax campaign, she says, ignores the latter.
"Shared responsibility" is the most mealy mouthed, dissembling, equivocating, pandering politics possible.
Here's my thought - if more than one person is responsible then no one is responsible.
Writing about life, citizenship, and Nova Scotia.