Expect changes to pedestrian buttons at Edmonton crosswalks next year

Pedestrian crosswalk button in Edmonton, May 2, 2018. Scott Johnston, 630 CHED

City engineers will re-examine how pedestrian buttons work at Edmonton intersections with crosswalks that are at mid-points in the road.

Councillor Andrew Knack is among those frustrated at how it can take two minutes for a pedestrian signal to finally get activated in some cases.

The motion to improve the system was one of three passed Wednesday by council’s community services committee.

“I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m not as happy,” Knack said as the button item was passed, along with a move to improve crosswalks at a quicker pace than the nearly three decades that was on the books in a city report.

Councillors also voted for a motion brought forward by Councillor Scott McKeen to have speed data updated on a regular basis.

READ MORE: Current budget only tackles a fraction of Edmonton’s problem crosswalks

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“I’m hoping this is the last year people will have to wait two minutes or more at a particular crosswalk to cross the road,” Knack told reporters.

“It’s actually not good for people walking or driving in many cases. They’re often not synchronized… so we’re hurting everyone with that.”

Gord Cebryk, the action deputy city manager for operations, said they’ll start asking the public for suggestions on the technology.

“We’re still going to roll out that public engagement out over the course of the summer and fall because we want to report back in the first quarter of 2019.”

He said technology will mean different things to different people.

“It’ll include many different areas of the demographic, including seniors, including schools, including BIAs (business improvement areas).

“All of those pieces have to shape how we want to provide that level of accessibility with the buttons.”

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Councillor Ben Henderson asked about a specific program that extends the length of time for seniors to get across the street. Cebryk said they’d check into it.

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“There’s many technologies out there that we probably aren’t aware of. If there are options, we’re certainly open to looking at them.”

“This year, they’re going to start working on the main streets and some of those high-priority locations,” Knack said. “They’re going to start taking some action after they really work with the various groups about what it’ll look like. Once they’ve done all of that engagement, we’ll start seeing action.”

The goal is to make the pedestrian crossings more in synch with traffic flow. In some cases, they may get rid of them and have the pedestrian signal automatically line up with vehicular flow.

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