After witnessing several close calls, a critical care and trauma physician in Halifax has raised concerns around pedestrian safety in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Specifically, Dr. Rob Green points out the risks that come from right-hand turns being allowed on red lights at major intersections.
Green says his main concern is with Halifax Transit buses making right-hand turns on red lights.
He questions whether or not they should be allowed to do so at major intersections.
“It’s not a new problem, I’ve witnessed it for at least 15 years in downtown Halifax. One of the things that I think we should discuss is looking at why buses turn right on red lights and if that is important, and if we reduce the right turns, does that translate into better pedestrian safety,” he said.
His comments have sparked some support.
While downtown Halifax Coun. Waye Mason doesn’t think banning transit buses from turning right on red lights is the answer, he’s not opposed to reevaluating where right-hand turns should be disallowed in the municipality.
Dr. Green says the conversation isn’t rooted in a new idea but the discussions have led to a petition being created to advocate for the change.
“According to our historical data in HRM, around 40 per cent of all incidents where pedestrians are hit are at these signalized intersections,” said Martyn Williams, with HRM Safe Streets for Everyone. “So right on reds is part of the conversation about how we make them safe for pedestrians to cross. At the moment they’re not.”
Williams says the historical data is generated from police reports that have been analyzed by the municipality and published in pedestrian safety reports.
Williams hopes at the very least, people will take note of discussions aimed at increasing road safety for vulnerable road users.
Dr. Green agrees.
“I think it’s important to have the conversation. I don’t know 100 per cent of what’s right here but I do think the conversation informed by the literature and what other jurisdictions do across Canada and the United States would be useful,” he said.
WATCH (July 26, 2019): Halifax pedestrians, cyclists say more action needed for road safety