Edmonton auditor calls for more follow-up work on crosswalk safety

A file photo of a crosswalk sign. File/Global News

Edmonton’s transportation department has been criticized in a city audit because, while they’ve done a good job increasing pedestrian safety by adding crosswalks and improving technology at those locations, they’ve failed to measure afterwards how effective those sites have become.

The problem was addressed Thursday at council’s audit committee.

“Conditions do change,” said city auditor David Wiun. “A shrub that is really low when the crosswalk is installed, you can go online and Google the area and you’ll see the shrub all of the sudden becomes six feet.

A woman along with her dog were killed earlier this month at a Suder Greens Drive crosswalk. Crews later dug out shrubbery in the area.

READ MORE: Husband of woman killed in Edmonton crosswalk: ‘My life ended with her’

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The most recent Office of Traffic Safety annual report indicated ten pedestrian fatalities in 2016, eight were in cross walks where they had the right of way.

Edmonton pedestrian fatality statistics for 2016. City of Edmonton

The transportation department is in the midst of 70 crosswalk upgrades in the next couple of years. A massive list of other locations is in the planning stages.

Gord Cebryk, the branch manager for traffic operations, said the intent is to post those locations on the city’s website, so anyone can check the progress of any location that’s important to them.

“We’re currently doing the assessment on those 275 locations, and that will be over the course of this year, but what we’ll do fairly shortly is we’re going to look at how we can include that in the open data so that the list is available and the people.”

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He said monitoring is done by city staff, or by video.

“When we do any type of traffic control adjustments, including pedestrian controls, we’re looking at using that technology to allow us to say is the activity changed, have the incidents decreased.”

Edmonton pedestrian fatality statistics for 2016. City of Edmonton

“We started using the technology about a year-and-a-half ago. One of the locations we did was our evaluation of Scona Road. When we’re doing our school programs now we’re doing it at all of the schools.”

READ MORE: Mother undergoes emergency C-section after being struck by SUV in marked Edmonton crosswalk

A camera at the corner of Scona Road and Saskatchewan Drive demonstrated there were a lot of close calls as cars turned the corner.

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Physical changes to that intersection will be made next year to make it a 90-degree right hand turn as drivers heading south up from the river valley.

There were several close calls at the cross walk just to the west of Scona Road that were caught on camera, convincing the department and the Office of Traffic Safety to make the change.

Mayor Don Iveson asked staff during Thursday’s meeting if they could look at new technology that Alberta Health Services has alerted him to from the U.S. that can track how quickly some one is moving, and adjust how long the signal stays activated. It’s seen as being especially valuable near seniors centres.

“I don’t know what the cost of this is, or how widely you deploy it. That’s why a pilot makes sense to investigate.”

READ MORE: Vision Zero plan could have crosswalk signals turn on with body heat

Other improvements being deployed by transportation staff include new crosswalk indicators where flashing beacons at the top of the signs on both sides of the road are at eye level for the driver so they catch his attention.

New shades of paint are also being looked at so markings on the pavement stand out more, especially in winter.

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And the colour of signs is being reworked.

“The important thing is you can’t have all fluorescent yellow-green everywhere, otherwise then people get used to one type of sign,” Cebryk said. “That’s why it’s important to differentiate depending on what you’re trying to highlight.”

Several years ago school signs changed from white on a blue background to black on yellow. That concept will now be expanded.



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