WATCH ABOVE: Residents living near Edward and Binney Streets are upset that the municipality has decided not to install a four-way stop at what they call a very dangerous intersection. Julia Wong explains.
HALIFAX – The head of a group of concerned residents said he is disappointed with a HRM staff report that said a four-way stop at a downtown intersection is not warranted.
Dr. Rob Green lives near the intersection of Edward Street and Binney Street. He said there have been several accidents there in the past year. The intersection is currently a two-way stop. Green said a four-way stop will force drivers to slow down and subsequently there will be fewer accidents.
“We’re very disappointed [with] the response,” he said. “Certainly we don’t think it represents the true amount of dangerous behaviour that goes around this corner.”
The report concluded there was not enough vehicle and pedestrian traffic to warrant a four-way stop. It also found that, in each collision, “the stop sign was clear and visible. These are not collisions that would be eliminated by the installation of an all-way stop”.
“While we understand how any accident would be upsetting for residents, the reason for the collisions wasn’t the absence of an all-way stop, but rather inattentive drivers not aware of their surroundings,” the report states.
“That certainly may be true but it doesn’t escape the fact people are not stopping and this is a dangerous intersection,” said Green, who is the medical director of Trauma Nova Scotia.
“Whether it’s driver inattentiveness or not, that would be a common problem of all major trauma. Probably a quarter of all of our trauma is from driver inattentive. Any measures we institute to slow down drivers to make intersections more safe is beneficial to community in general.”
Municipality says four-way stop a “no go”
HRM spokesperson Jennifer Stairs said staff looked at traffic volume, pedestrian traffic, speed and collision data before coming to their conclusion.
“All of these things combined show a four-way stop is unwarranted based on national standards both for collisions and for traffic volume,” she said.
However, she said the municipality will take some extra precaution at the intersection.
“We are going to replace the two stop signs that exist at that intersection to make sure they’re proper reflective material. People will be able to see them. We’re also going to paint bars on the street to ensure drivers know they are approaching a stop sign.”
Stairs said the work should be done by the fall.
Transportation research responds
There are downsides to four-way stops, according to Ahsan Habib, the director of the Dalhousie Transportation Collaboratory.
“It would obviously add to the safety if you have a four-way stop or signalized intersection, but the reason why we don’t put it in all intersections is we also have to maintain the traffic flow. We will see the building up of the queues on the road and Edward Street is connected to very important arterials like Robie Street,” he said.
He disagreed when asked whether maintaining flow on the Halifax peninsula was more important than safety.
“What I see from the report and the pedestrian and vehicles counts, we are prioritizing flows but we are not prioritizing flows at the expense of safety,” he said.
Habib said the design of the intersection is not the determining factor, he said there needs to be more enforcement at problem intersections and more education for drivers.
“We are seeing collisions. That’s more the fault of the user itself, the driver or the pedestrian. We have to bump up those kinds of awareness campaigns. Engineering, enforcement and education – that can really contribute to the road safety of it.”
Habib said he agrees with the changes the municipality will make at the intersection but said more can also be done. He said even more reflective signage, reflective painting and advisory signs will work to maintain flow as well as ensure safety.
Stairs said the decision is final, however the municipality may revisit the issue if more data or more information becomes available.