Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Halifax To Give Pedestrians More Time To Curb Accidents

With the number of pedestrians being struck by cars on the rise in Halifax, the city is giving residents more time to cross its roadways.

The city says walking lights will flash longer at crosswalks in an effort to curb accidents.

There were 74 pedestrian/vehicular incidents in 2013, and 55 of those occurred in marked crosswalks.

While the cause is unclear and distracted drivers can't be ruled out, one reason may be a shift in population demographics. Like a lot of cities in Canada, Halifax has an aging population and the length of traffic lights isn’t keeping up – or slowing down, as it may be.
That is, until now.

After participating in a national study that reviewed how long it takes people to cross the street, Halifax began implementing changes earlier this year.

"The pedestrian walking signals were calculated based on a walking speed of 1.2 metres per second," City of Halifax spokesperson Jennifer Stairs told CTV. "And that has since been lowered to one metre per second. So that essentially gives people more time to cross the road."

Earlier this month, an 81-year-old woman was struck and killed at a Halifax intersection.
"She was energetic and full of life," said Beulah Kemp-Meade, who was friends with the victim. "Certainly as you get older, you don't walk as fast," she said, adding that she thinks increasing the amount of time to cross the intersection will help.

Engineer Ahsan Habib – who just finished a two-year study on collision patterns -- also said adding time is a good first step. But he thinks more needs to be done.

"We really need some engineering changes, like improving the design of the intersection," said Habib, an assistant professor of transportation, engineering and planning at Dalhousie University.

The city is also considering new models, saying that even small changes can save lives.

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