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Crosswalk Safety Report

June 1, 1999

Table of Contents

1.INTRODUCTION

  • 1.1 Background 1.2 Fundamental Consideration
  • 1.3 The Provincial Perspective

2. CROSSWALK DESIGN

  • 2.1 Crosswalk Hierarchy 2.2 Red-Amber-Green Signals (Half Signals) 2.3 Enhancement of the Special Crosswalk (RA-5) Design 2.4 Fluorescent Yellow-Green Crosswalk Signs 2.5 In-Pavement Flashing Lights 2.6 Belisha Beacons 2.7 Advance Stop Bar 2.8 Advance Warning Signs 2.9 Zebra Paint Markings 2.10 Grade Separated Walkways 2.11 Parking Restrictions 2.12 Rumble Strips
  • 2.13 Speed Hump / Raised Crosswalk

3. SUPPORTIVE PROGRAMS

  • 3.1 Traffic Calming 3.2 Public Education Program 3.3 Legislative Changes 3.4 Increased Enforcement 3.5 Crossing Guards 3.6 Collision Data Monitoring
  • 3.7 Maintenance

4. ACTION PLAN


1.0 Introduction

1.1 BACKGROUND

The Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act states that crosswalks exist at every intersection and that pedestrians have the right-of-way at a crosswalk. Despite this protection under the law, municipalities find it necessary to take steps which more clearly identify crosswalks and aid the pedestrian in making their presence known to motorists.This report contains a review of technologies used in crosswalk design as well as programs that support safety at crosswalks. The objective was to identify opportunities for HRM to enhance the design of crosswalks and to improve safety through supportive programs.There are essentially four classifications of crosswalks currently being applied in HRM:

  • Signalized crosswalks - where traffic is controlled by red-amber-green signals and pedestrians are controlled by walk-don't walk signals Special crosswalks - where pedestrians use a push button to actuate flashing amber beacons which alert motorists to their presence Marked crosswalks - where lines are painted across the street and signs are placed at the side of the street (and in some cases overhead, as well) to indicate the location of the crosswalk
  • Unmarked crosswalks - all crosswalks not included in the other classifications which exist at every intersection

Note: Some older technologies, primarily consisting of long, illuminated overhead orange or yellow signs with the word 'CROSSWALK' on them, are being phased out and will no longer be legal within the next few years.This report focuses primarily on special crosswalks, since it is these crosswalks where much of the pedestrian activity is focused and where the majority of pedestrian collisions have occurred. Quite understandably, it is these same crosswalks that have been questioned by the public. Much of the discussion in the report, however, could apply to any crosswalk and to pedestrian safety in general.The report attempts to list every option and possible opportunity available to the Municipality and discuss the issues, budget implications, and potential for application in a consistent format. Many of the alternative solutions were brought to the attention of staff by concerned citizens offering their suggestions.

1.2 FUNDAMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS

There are several considerations that are important in establishing a context in which any modification to crosswalk design, control and support must be viewed. These are:National and provincial standards have been set . . .The Transportation Association of Canada has established national standards and guidelines for all types of traffic control, including crosswalks. From these standards, the Province of Nova Scotia has developed a set of regulations which specify certain requirements for signs and pavement markings which must be complied with to be a legal and enforceable traffic control device. This means that some modifications to crosswalk design would be, in fact, illegal. It is also important to remain as compliant as possible to national standards and guidelines, as a great amount of nation-wide research has gone into developing and testing them. These also help to develop consistency from municipality to municipality throughout the country.More is not necessarily better . . .It should not be assumed that putting more and more resources into enhancing the visibility of crosswalks increases safety. It has been suggested that increasing the visibility of crosswalks instills a sense of over-confidence in pedestrians and the degree of caution used in making a crossing diminishes. Although within HRM there is insufficient data to determine conclusively whether this is true or not, records show very few pedestrian-vehicle collisions at unmarked crosswalks, suggesting that the extra caution used by pedestrians at these locations is an important factor.A significant investment has already been made . . .HRM has applied a consistent standard for crosswalk design for a number of years and currently has an investment of about $3,000,000 in 120 crosswalks with overhead flashing amber beacons and $500,000 in pole-mounted crosswalk signs at approximately 460 marked crosswalks. Any 'across-the-board' modification must have a considerable additional benefit to justify the major re-investment that would be required for HRM.

1.3 THE PROVINCIAL PERSPECTIVE

The Province is currently in the process of establishing a Task Force on Crosswalk Safety. The objective is to consider changes to design, legislation and educational programs related to crosswalk safety from a province-wide perspective. Halifax Regional Municipality have been invited to provide two representatives on this Task Force.We believe that this is the proper forum in which to establish suitable design criteria for crosswalks and for HRM to act alone would harm the relatively high degree of uniformity that has been achieved to date in Nova Scotia.

The action plan promoted in this report stays away from recommending immediate changes to HRM crosswalk design policy and suggests, instead, test installations of promising opportunities for evaluation by the Provincial Task Force.


2.0 Crosswalk Design

There is a recognition of a definite hierarchy of crosswalk devices which are employed to mark crossings demonstrated by roadway geometry and cross-section, pedestrian usage patterns and performance record. The Department of Transportation and Public Works has adopted the following application guidelines for the establishment of pedestrian control measures pursuant to the general direction provided by the MUTCD.

  1. The basic crosswalk installation consists of two (2) painted lines across the roadway and four (4) ground mounted pedestrian crosswalk (RA-4) signs, two (2) signs for each direction of travel. The pedestrian symbol signs are to be oriented toward the roadway. This installation is associated with two (2) lane two way roadways, a single moving lane in each direction, with the pedestrian usage primarily during daylight hours. The basic crosswalk installation may be supplemented by an overhead illuminated crosswalk (RA-5) signs. Two such signs are required for each crosswalk and should be positioned over the center of the approach lane directly above the crosswalk and with the pedestrian symbols oriented toward the roadway. Need for such devices may be required due to a high volume of nighttime pedestrian usage, high vehicular approach speeds, multi-lane approach to the crosswalk and/or accident record.
  2. The basic crosswalk with RA-5 signs may be supplemented by pedestrian actuated flashing lights installed alongside the RA-5 signs above the crosswalk. Each RA-5 sign should have two flashing light units, one facing in each direction. The pedestrian actuates the flashing lights by a pole mounted push button and the flashing lights should be on a timer mechanism such that the lights flash for the time required for the pedestrian to activate the lights, have approaching traffic stop and walking time across the road. The flashing lights are normally reserved for those crosswalks on multi-lane roadways.

The latter standard is referred to as a special crosswalk and is the focus of much of the discussion in the following sections. The discussion addresses features that modify or supplement the current crosswalk design standards. Each is discussed in terms of issues relevant to HRM and HRM staff comments on the potential for implementation here. The features which show potential benefits were then placed in an action plan described in section 4.0.

2.1 CROSSWALK HIERARCHY

DESCRIPTION

HRM applies a hierarchy of crosswalk standards (as discussed in section 1.1) based on technical warrants. These warrants ensure that resources for crosswalk control (signs, beacons, crossing guards, etc.) are placed where they are of greatest value. Adjusting the minimum criteria for a certain level of service would increase the amount of crosswalk control resources put on the street and may possibly result in increased safety.

ISSUES

The technical warrants are based essentially on the potential for vehicle-pedestrian conflict and are calculated using vehicle volumes, pedestrian volumes, and other factors. We feel it is important to have limits on how frequently additional resources are applied to crosswalks not only from a fiscal standpoint, but with a concern for 'over-saturation'.

As an illustration, it is possible to install signs and painted crosswalk lines at every single intersection in the municipality. Once this treatment becomes commonplace, though, it no longer stands out in the eyes of the motorist and the value of identifying a limited number of more significant crosswalks is lost.

APPLICATION

At present, HRM staff is satisfied that current warrants are a reasonable means of determining the level of control to be placed at a crosswalk and strike a reasonable balance between adequate service, fiscal responsibility, and proper saturation. We do not believe that increasing the amount of signage or control at crosswalks in general will increase safety.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

If levels of services were to be increased, budget requirements would rise proportionally.

2.2 RED-AMBER-GREEN SIGNALS (HALF SIGNALS)

 

half_signals


DESCRIPTION

A street which is traversed by a crosswalk would be controlled by normal red/amber/green signals and the crosswalk would be controlled by walk/don't walk signals. The signals would be activated by a pedestrian push-button, but may not necessarily change immediately upon activation. Side streets would continue to be controlled by a stop sign.

This type of signalization (frequently referred to as a pedestrian half-signal) has been used extensively in Western Canada and is increasing in use in Ontario. Until recently, pedestrian half-signals were not permitted for use in Nova Scotia.

ISSUES

This type of crosswalk control can be very effective in controlling both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. It is very similar in appearance and operation to crosswalks at signalized intersections.Full signals at crosswalks may add significant additional delay to traffic on the main street and add to overall congestion. With flashing amber beacons, vehicles may proceed once the crosswalk is clear. With full signals the red must be long enough to permit a complete crossing at the slow end of normal walking speeds, and vehicles are often stopped when the crosswalk is clear. Signal coordination on a main corridor may be affected unless response to a pedestrian activation is delayed and synchronized with computerized signal progress on the main street.Additional safety issues are created for side street traffic. A stop sign must be retained on the side street approach to prevent over-actuation of the signals and to deter overuse of local streets. Where the main street is busy and gaps are few, motorists waiting at a side street stop sign are tempted to leave their vehicle to press the pedestrian actuation button. Also, motorists preparing to enter the main street while traffic on it is stopped for a red signal have no idea when the light will turn green and may be caught entering the intersection just as the light turns green.

This type of installation will add delay for pedestrians as well, relative to the current special crosswalk design where the main street signal is instantaneous. It is more similar to crosswalks at signalized intersections where pedestrians must wait for the 'walk' indication.

APPLICATION

With the significant investment already made in flashing amber beacons, pedestrian half-signals will not likely provide significant additional safety to justify the cost. Traffic Services does, however, plan to use pedestrian half-signals in special situations where controlled crosswalks are close to signalized intersections or part of a major corridor where vehicle progression is important. Half-signals will control the times at which flow on the main street can be interrupted. A pedestrian half-signal is currently being constructed at the intersection of North/Brunswick and similar installations are being considered for Quinpool Road.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

The increased cost per new installation for half-signals instead of the special crosswalk standard would be approximately $2000. To change all existing special crosswalk installations in HRM to half signals would cost approximately $500,000

2.3 ENHANCEMENT OF THE SPECIAL CROSSWALK (RA-5) DESIGN

DESCRIPTION

The design standard used by HRM for pedestrian-actuated crosswalks has been established by the Transportation Association of Canada and is referred to as a special crosswalk. A number of suggestions have been made by the public on enhancing the visibility and function of these installations. These suggestions are listed and addressed below.

ISSUES

Flashing red beacons Flashing red beacons may have a more positive effect in requiring vehicles to come to a complete stop before proceeding through the crosswalk. The cities of Regina and Calgary, however, experimented with the use of flashing red beacons at crosswalks and discontinued their use after unfavorable results. Since flashing red lights tell a motorist to stop then proceed when safe, there was confusion as to what was required when the pedestrian had completed the crossing, but the lights continued to flash. There were instances of motorists ignoring the red light when they saw no need to stop. The flashing red lights also changed the perception of right of way at intersections with motorists on the side street theoretically having right of way over motorists stopped for the flashing red light on the main street. Displaying an instantaneous red signal without any warning period can increase the risk of rear-end collisions and may give pedestrians over-confidence in the ability of traffic to react to the signal and come to a complete stop at the crosswalk.Lower the overhead sign/beaconsThe overhead sign/beacons, like traffic signals, are set to provide minimum clearance for trucks. Once motorists are close enough to a crosswalk to lose visibility of the overhead light, they should be making visual contact with the pedestrian.Add beacons at the side of the roadThis would increase the visibility of the signal display if overhead beacons are obstructed by trucks or obscured by sunlight. Locate signal poles on the 'far side' of the crosswalkAlthough not specified in the standards, this is the normal practice in HRM unless physical constraints require a 'near side' placement. The thinking is that, when placed on the far side of the crosswalk, the pole will not block the view of the pedestrian from approaching vehicles. A contrary argument has been made that a 'near side' placement is preferable since it requires the pedestrian to face approaching traffic when pressing the actuation button.Strobe lightsIt has been suggested that strobe lights may attract more attention than flashing beacons. This would be a major departure from normal traffic control signals and would be particularly confusing to visitors.Dual beacons over the approaching lane

Each of the two overhead signs installed at a special crosswalk has two amber beacons. Normally each sign has one beacon facing each direction. It has been suggested that the sign over the approach lane should have both beacons facing approaching traffic. Traffic Services feels that the normal practice increases the range of the display, although the dual beacon method is used on wide streets with center medians where the signal on the opposing direction lanes would not be easily visible.

APPLICATION

Generally, HRM Traffic Services is satisfied with the current design and are reluctant to diverge from the consistency of a national standard. We do feel, however, that there may be some merit to additional side-mounted beacons and will investigate this with the Provincial Task Force.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

Pole-mounted beacons would add $700 to the cost of each new installation and cost approximately $120,000 to retrofit the entire HRM.

2.4 FLUORESCENT YELLOW-GREEN CROSSWALK SIGNS

DESCRIPTION

Fluorescent yellow-green has been suggested as a background color for crosswalk and school zone signs as a means of making them stand out from other warning and information signs.

ISSUES

Fluorescent yellow-green is not currently an accepted color for signs in Canada, although these signs are in limited use in several Municipalities in Ontario and consideration is being given to adopting the color nationally.

It has been suggested by jurisdictions in the United States who have been using this color for two years that it stands out initially because of its novelty but that eventually the signs blend into the street landscape like any other sign.

APPLICATIONS

Interest in using this sign province-wide has been expressed and would be addressed by the Provincial Task Force. In HRM, some signs have been installed on Glendale Drive in Lower Sackville for evaluation purposes (see Photo Exhibits at the end of this document).

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

The fluorescent yellow-green backing material is more expensive than the silver backing material now used and would increase the cost of producing a single sign from approximately $45 to $60. The cost of replacing all existing pedestrian signs in HRM would be approximately $50,000.

2.5 IN-PAVEMENT FLASHING LIGHTS

DESCRIPTIONS

In-pavement lights, similar to those used on airport runways, are installed along the crosswalk line facing the on-coming traffic. The lights are activated by a pedestrian push-button.

ISSUES

Although trial installations of these devices have generated positive results, they have been used primarily in California and Florida. In northern climates, any in-pavement device of this type is susceptible to snow-plow damage. Cleaning and maintaining these in-pavement devices requires much more effort than for overhead beacons. Devices of this type also create a hazard for bicycle and motorcycle traffic.

In-pavement lights are effective primarily at night-time and are much less visible during the day than overhead lights.

APPLICATIONS

Given the damage expected from snow-plows, installation of in-pavement flashing lights will not be considered. Previous test installations by Nova Scotia Transportation & Public Works of similar devices proved unsuccessful.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

Budget implications have not been determined.

inpave

2.6 BELISHA BEACONS

DESCRIPTIONS

Belisha beacons were invented in the UK in 1934 and are now used extensively in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. A Belisha beacon consists of a white-and-black striped pole with a plastic orange globe the size of a soccer ball at the top. This beacon is placed at each end of the crosswalk and flashes continuously.

ISSUES

The concept is somewhat similar to the special crosswalk design with the exception of the placement of the beacon and the continuous flashing. We are concerned that continuous flashing will 'dull' the reaction of motorists compared to beacons which flash only when pedestrians are present.

APPLICATIONS

This is a fairly significant departure from the Canadian special crosswalk standard and may be confusing to drivers from other parts of the country. With little apparent advantage over the special crosswalk design, Belisha beacons will not be considered for use.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

Budget implications have not been determined.

belisha

2.7 ADVANCE STOP BAR

DESCRIPTIONS

A stop bar is placed 10-15 metres in advance of the crosswalk for both approaching streams of traffic. The stop bar can be supplemented with a sign reading 'STOP HERE FOR PEDESTRIANS'.

ISSUES

A review of previous crosswalk fatalities indicates that for many, including the two at Robie/Welsford, a contributing factor was the pedestrian being 'screened' from view of an approaching motorist by another vehicle already stopped in an adjacent lane. The diagram below shows how reaction time for vehicles can be improved when stopping occurs in advance of the crosswalk.

Stop bars are normally placed only at locations where vehicles are, or may, be required to stop, such as stop signs and traffic signals. Since vehicles are legally required only to yield to pedestrians, the message may be somewhat contradictory. National standards do not presently include the use of advance stop bars.

APPLICATIONS

Given the frequency of 'vehicle screening' as a contributing factor to collisions in HRM, this type of installation shows great promise. Experimental installations have been done in Dartmouth previously and should be undertaken again for evaluation by the Provincial Task Force.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

The initial cost of installing two signs and two painted stop bars at a crosswalk is $500. HRM-wide, this would be a cost of $60,000. Maintenance costs would increase as well, particularly for stop bars which must be repainted annually.

stopbar

2.8 ADVANCE WARNING SIGNS

DESCRIPTIONS

An advance warning sign (WC-2, see below), is an optional part of the special crosswalk standard and is applicable in locations where advance visibility is limited. Other similar warning signs have also been suggested (see below). A painted 'X' in advance of the crosswalk has been used before (and is still present at some crosswalks in HRM) but is no longer included in the national standard.

ISSUES

In a congested urban setting, there is a tendency for any advance warning sign to be lost. The advantage of the overhead signs and accompanying beacons is in the provision of visibility well in advance of the intersection.

APPLICATIONS

HRM Traffic Services believes the national standard for special crosswalks to be adequate without supplementary signs or signs with alternative wording or messages. WC-2 signs will be used at all new special crosswalk installations and will be installed at existing locations where limited advance visibility warrants.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

Signs of this type cost approximately $150 to install including a post. Installing two per intersection would add $300 to the cost of a special crosswalk.

wc2 perpare

2.9 ZEBRA PAINT MARKINGS

DESCRIPTIONS

Wide white bars, parallel to the street are used to mark the crosswalk. Zebra markings are still in evidence at a few crosswalks in HRM but are no longer repainted.

ISSUES

National standards identify zebra markings as an alternative to the standard parallel white lines.

The negative side of zebra markings is the increased maintenance cost for repainting and the reduced friction caused by the increased painted surface which causes a hazard for pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles. Although the zebra markings are, intuitively, more visible, the increased visibility is much more apparent to pedestrians than they are to motorists (who view the markings from a lower eye level and from an 'end-on' perspective). This raises the concern that pedestrians will get a sense of over confidence regarding the visibility of the crosswalk to motorists.

APPLICATIONS

Based on the concerns discussed above, Traffic Services will not use zebra markings at crosswalks in HRM.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

Using zebra markings would increase the annual cost of crosswalk repainting but the amount of increase has not been determined.

2.10 GRADE-SEPARATED WALKWAYS

DESCRIPTIONS

A grade-separated walkway could be an overhead structure or an underpass crossing below the roadway.

ISSUES

Grade separation is the ideal solution to pedestrian-vehicle conflicts, but can only be effective if it is used. At a normal intersection, simply crossing the street is much more convenient (even if the pedestrian has to wait for a gap in traffic) than climbing two long ramps, up and down, in addition to the street crossing. Grade separations are effective only when the pedestrian is already at the required elevation (as with the pedways downtown) or is forced to use the ramps (as with the Highway 111 pedway where fencing prohibits at-grade crossing of the highway.)

Grade-separated walkways are very intrusive to residential neighbourhoods and require a great deal of space to develop a ramp for wheelchair access. Although the requirement for ramping is reduced for underpasses, the issue of security is more prominent.

APPLICATIONS

The use of grade-separated walkways will be used where appropriate. Overhead walkways will not be considered at existing crosswalks unless there is an ability to completely eliminate at-grade crossings (through the use of fencing, for example) and there is sufficient room to install wheelchair accessible ramping without impacting (physically or visually) adjacent properties.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

The cost of a grade-separated walkway varies greatly by location but is normally in the range of $60,000 to $120,000. Underpasses may be less expensive initially but add ongoing additional lighting costs.

2.11 PARKING RESTRICTIONS

DESCRIPTIONS

Restricting parking and stopping in the vicinity of a crosswalk can increase the visibility of pedestrians entering the crosswalk. This restriction could be enforced by signage, or by the use of an extended curb.

ISSUES

The Motor Vehicle Act prohibits parking within 5 metres of a crosswalk. National standards suggest a desirable no-stopping area of 30 meters from a crosswalk and this is supported to varying degrees at many crosswalks in HRM by the installation of 'No Stopping' signs.

To remove the possibility of vehicles stopping or parking near a crosswalk in violation of posted signs, curb extensions may be beneficial. The curb extension helps to shorten the length of the crosswalk and allows the crosswalk sign to be placed closer to the travelled lanes. The narrowing of a roadway using curb extensions can also have a traffic calming effect. On the negative side, curb extensions may interfere with snow plowing, drainage, and bicycle traffic and can reduce the capacity of intersection turning movements.

APPLICATIONS

Curb extensions would undoubtedly be beneficial in certain locations. A curb extension is beyond the resources of existing approved operating or capital budgets for 1999/2000. HRM Traffic Services will look for locations where curb extensions might provide significant benefit and identify appropriate funding for the 2000-01 capital budget. Consideration will be given to including curb extensions in any new roadway designs. Installation of a curb extension would be on a trial basis only, until the impact on snow-clearing operations was determined.Curb extensions have been used in some Nova Scotia communities and examples from Lunenburg are provided in the Photo Exhibits at the end of this document.

Implementation of new no stopping zones and extension of existing zones to more closely match the national standard will be undertaken on a location-by-location basis.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

Retrofitting a curb extension into an existing crosswalk would cost in the order of $10,000 to $25,000. Including a curb extension in a new design would have negligible fiscal impact. Extending no stopping zones in the vicinity of crosswalks is negligible in direct cost, but the loss of on-street parking stock is a significant impact in some locations and may reduce parking meter revenues for HRM in some cases.

2.12 RUMBLE STRIPS

DESCRIPTIONS

Rumble strips are small raised ridges or cut channels in the roadway surface which create a noise when vehicles travel over them. Rumble strips may alert motorists to the presence of a crosswalk more effectively than signs.

ISSUES

The advantage of flashing amber beacons is that they are pedestrian-actuated and motorists become accustomed to associating them with the presence of a pedestrian. With rumble strips, the noise is made every time a motorist encounters a crosswalk, whether pedestrians are present or not. If used at every special crosswalk in HRM, the significance of the rumble strip sound would be lost and they would become no more significant than a sign.Rumble strips create difficulties for snow-clearing equipment and special gaps are needed for bicycle and motorcycle traffic.

The sound made by a vehicle crossing the rumble strip can be heard by more than the driver. The continual sound of vehicles crossing a rumble strip would create a significant noise nuisance in an urban neighbourhood.

APPLICATIONS

The use of rumble strips will not be considered.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

Budget implications have not been determined.

2.13 SPEED HUMP / RAISED CROSSWALK

DESCRIPTIONS

A speed hump is a long, gradual hump in the road which causes some discomfort to the motorists when crossed at speeds greater than 50 km/h. A raised crosswalk is the same, except with the ends of the hump separated and a crosswalk placed in the middle at the height of the hump. The objective is to reduce vehicle speeds in the vicinity of the crosswalk.

Speed bumps, which are shorter and more abrupt than speed humps, are typically used in parking lots and are not recommended for use on public streets.

ISSUES

Speed humps and raised crosswalks are accepted as traffic calming devices. There are, however, important concerns regarding the impact of these devices on emergency response vehicles and snow-clearing operations.

One benefit of the raised crosswalk is that painted markings (typically a triangular shape) on the ramped portion can be more visible to motorists than markings on a flat roadway surface. One concern with any vertical deflection in the roadway is that motorists' attention will be diverted to negotiating the hump and away from watching for pedestrians.

APPLICATIONS

HRM Traffic Services believes there may be opportunity to test the effectiveness of a raised crosswalk while considering its impact on snow clearing operations. Only streets where emergency response would be infrequent would be considered for this type of treatment.

An example of a raised crosswalk in the Penhorn Mall parking lot is provided in the photo exhibits at the end of this report.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

Retrofitting a raised crosswalk to an existing location would cost approximately $10,000. HRM Traffic Services will look for locations where raised crosswalks might provide significant benefit and identify appropriate funding for the 2000-01 capital budget. Consideration will be given to including raised crosswalks in any new roadway designs. Installation of a raised crosswalk extension would be on a trial basis only, until the impact on snow-clearing operations and emergency response was determined.


3. Supportive Programs

Along with the physical design of the crosswalk, supportive programs help to develop a safer climate for pedestrian crossings. The supportive programs discussed in this section deal with a broad range of topics from maintenance to enforcement and education. In most cases, the program is already in place and consideration must be given to extending it if the results might show improvements in crosswalk safety.

3.1 TRAFFIC CALMING

DESCRIPTIONS

Traffic calming involves changes in street alignment, installation of barriers, and other physical measures to reduce traffic speeds. Traffic calming in the vicinity of major crosswalks may reduce the potential for collisions

ISSUES

The use of physical traffic calming devices has not been used in HRM due to the concern over impact on snow-clearing operations and response times for emergency services vehicles.

APPLICATIONS

HRM Traffic Services is currently in the process of drafting a Traffic Calming Policy which will determine the types of traffic calming devices that can be used in HRM and identify a process by which they can be most effectively located. The original Traffic Calming Policy adopted in 1996 has been renamed Neighbourhood Short-Cutting Policy to more correctly recognize its objectives.

Traffic calming would not be used on major roadways. To do so would encourage even greater short-cutting than we already have.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

The development of the Traffic Calming Policy is currently identified in the approved operating budget for Traffic Services. The budget implications of traffic calming installations has not yet been determined.

3.2 PUBLIC EDUCATION PROGRAM

DESCRIPTIONS

A public education program would strive at educating both the pedestrian and the motorist in the safe and effective use of crosswalks.

ISSUES

This is one initiative that is almost certain to have positive effects with no negative impacts other than the cost of implementation.An educational program could include the following short-term and long-term components:

  • expansion of the delivery of safety programs to seniors, service organizations, resident associations, etc. production and distribution of pedestrian safety educational materials (sign kits, coloring books, reflective articles, etc.) to schools. placing driver and pedestrian safety education in the school curriculum develop a safety mascot use advertising media to deliver safety messages
  • solicit the participation of media services and private sector in funding educational programs
APPLICATIONS

Corporate Communications Limited of Halifax has taken the initiative to fund and produce a crosswalk safety campaign. It is anticipated that safety education will be an important mandate of the Provincial Task Force as well.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

Budget implications have not been determined at this time. With corporate support, the budget implications of a safety program may be reduced significantly.

3.3 LEGISLATIVE CHANGES

DESCRIPTIONS

The Nova Scotia Motor Vehicles Act states that: "the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian within a [crosswalk] except at intersections where the movement of pedestrian traffic is being regulated by peace officers or traffic control signals". There is some concern regarding the subjectiveness of 'yielding' and legislative changes may be able to more clearly define the responsibilities of the driver and improve enforceability.

Increasing fines may also be a tool to improving compliance with crosswalk regulations.

ISSUES

Legislation is obviously beyond the control of HRM, but can be addressed cooperatively through the Provincial Task Force. Consideration may be given to requiring a vehicle to come to a complete stop, requiring a vehicle to yield when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk or about to enter, or making jaywalking illegal.

APPLICATIONS

Application of legislative changes is not directly applicable to HRM.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

There are no budget implications.

3.4 INCREASED ENFORCEMENT

DESCRIPTIONS

Increased enforcement of violations for motorists not yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks or pedestrians not yielding to motorists outside of crosswalks along with issues relating to speeding may improve compliance and improve overall safety.

ISSUES

Enforcement of these violations requires the presence of a police officer. The police already issue over 12,000 moving violations annually and may find it difficult to shift further resources to this issue. The Police Service could, however, be asked to "target" this type of violation within the existing scope of their work and pay special attention to this initiative.The program of targeted enforcement should include the identification of specific problem locations and perhaps an evaluation of the enforcement process to include the resources available and the processes used. It is noted however that already the police are writing more tickets than in earlier years when there was a dedicated traffic section. Perhaps consideration should be given on a business case basis of how enforcement issues can be dealt with.Alternatives to police enforcement could include electronic enforcement through cameras, however the appropriate legislation and mechanisms are not currently in place as it would pertain to speeding or crosswalk violations.

It might be of some benefit to have available portable radar speed signs that could be set up in a neighborhood to reflect the speed of passing cars as part of the public awareness issue , a similar process is used on the bridges on occasion.

APPLICATIONS

Police will be asked to focus on enforcement of this offence for a period of time to determine if the impact of such a program warrants more direct action or recommendation.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

Since increased enforcement involves both expenditure of resources and generation of revenue (from fines) any budget implications associated with permanent enforcement changes would be complex and have not been determined at this time.

3.5 CROSSING GUARDS

DESCRIPTIONS

Crossing guards are used to improve the safety for younger pedestrians crossing during school hours at designated locations where traffic volumes and or locations suggest a potential for risk to the younger persons on their way to and from school. The presence of crossing guards seems to improve the awareness for motorists and provide some control on the actions of the pedestrians.

ISSUES

HRM provides for school crossing guards through the HRM Police Service annual operating budget. The number of locations is limited and the Police Service generally makes recommendations as to the need for a guard at various locations subject to funding. The determination and placement is based on traffic volumes, locations, and pedestrian ages and counts. This is a contract service subject to renewal in the near future. The success of the program to some extent depends on the training, reliability and experience of the staff of the contractor. The cost per location of a guard for the school year is approximately $4,000 - $5,000. This program as it is currently configured costs about $800,000 annually. Statistics show that there are virtually no vehicle-pedestrian collisions at these school crossing locations annually.

APPLICATIONS

No changes to the level of service for crossing guards are being considered at this time.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

Budget implications associated with increasing the level of service for crossing guards have not been determined at this time.

3.6 COLLISION DATA MONITORING

DESCRIPTIONS

Monitoring of vehicle-pedestrian collision data may be useful in identifying trends, demographic characteristics of persons involved in collisions, and specific locations with higher than expected incidents of collision.

ISSUES

HRM Traffic Services is not officially permitted to possess accident records, although data is received from both the HRM Police Service and the RCMP. To date, little other than basic compilation of data has been undertaken. Prior to amalgamation, the City of Dartmouth and the Town of Bedford had no formal data collection and none has been developed. The Department of Transportation & Public Works have developed a more comprehensive data capture system and perform extensive analysis, but they do not perform the urban-oriented statistical analysis needed to identify corrective measures for HRM.

Simply tabulating the number of collisions at a particular crosswalk is not a reliable means of identifying locations with inherent problems. A higher number of collisions would be expected at a busy crosswalk on a busy street simply by virtue of the number of conflicts generated over the period of a day. On the other hand, a 'quieter' crosswalk may have safety deficiencies which would come to light only when collision rates and not numbers of incidents are used in the evaluation. The calculation of collision rates would require a database of pedestrian volume counts, which are not regularly taken.

APPLICATIONS

HRM Traffic Services will reallocate resources to improve the capture and evaluation of pedestrian-vehicle collision data. We are currently working with the province to gain official access to collision records and to develop a data exchange program. HRM Traffic Services will also develop a program to perform an extensive safety audit each year on the five crosswalks which have the highest collision rates.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

Reallocation of resources will be used to develop an automated procedure for data input and analysis. In the long term, collision monitoring will rely heavily on clerical staff and term students, thereby having little impact on the Traffic Services operating budget.

3.7 MAINTENANCE

DESCRIPTIONS

Maintenance at special crosswalks consists of painting of crosswalk lines, replacement of signs and ensuring operation of the pedestrian push-button and flashing beacons.

ISSUES

The safety of the special crosswalk can be reduced if any component is missing, worn, or non-functional. Signs and painted markings are the responsibility of Works & Natural Services and the operation of the beacons falls to Engineering & Transportation. There is currently no set policy on maintenance, although lines are normally repainted annually and missing or vandalized signs and non-functioning lights are replaced as soon as possible once notification is received.

APPLICATIONS

Engineering & Transportation is currently developing a set of preventative maintenance policies which would see signal bulbs and push-buttons replaced on a fixed schedule to reduce the chance that they will become inoperative.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS

Budget implications of a preventative maintenance program have not yet been determined.


4. Action Plan

A review of the comments made regarding each of the technologies and supportive programs indicates a desire to retain the national standard for special crosswalk installation. The benefit of a standard like this is its consistency from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and the nation-wide research that has gone into its development. Modifications and enhancements to this design will be considered only in conjunction with the Provincial Task Force or the Transportation Association of Canada.We have, in this report, identified a number of opportunities to improve the safety of crosswalks and have classified them as either immediate steps or as items to be implemented on a trial basis for evaluation with the Provincial Task Force. Other beneficial tasks, such as a education campaign will be undertaken within the mandate of the Task Force.

TASKS FOR IMMEDIATE IMPLEMENTATION

  1. Development of a computerized collision database and assessment procedures to identify crosswalks with high collision rates, and trends in collisions. Working with the Province, acquisition of collision records by HRM Traffic Services will be legitimized and a method of data sharing will be developed. Annual safety audits will be done at the five crosswalks with the highest collision rates. Initiation of a program to review special crosswalks to determine where safety might be enhanced through the installation of advance warning signs and extension of no stopping zones.
  2. Police Service resources will be focused on crosswalk violations and speed enforcement in the vicinity of crosswalks for a trial period of three months during which time results will be monitored

TASKS FOR TRIAL INSTALLATION WHICH CAN BE UNDERTAKEN WITHIN EXISTING APPROVED BUDGETS

  1. Installation of high visibility fluorescent yellow-green crosswalk signs (already installed at several locations on Glendale Drive). Installation of a pedestrian half-signal at the intersection of North/Brunswick (anticipated installation in August 1999). Installation of stop bars ahead of the crosswalk to prevent vehicles which have already stopped from screening pedestrians from the view of motorists approaching in adjacent lanes (proposed immediately for Robie/Welsford).
  2. Installation of pole-mounted flashing amber beacons to supplement the overhead beacons (proposed immediately for Robie/Welsford).

TASKS FOR TRIAL INSTALLATION WHICH REQUIRE FUNDING APPROVAL

  1. Installation of a raised crosswalk to reduce the speed of vehicles near the crosswalk.
  2. Installation of a curb extension to prevent vehicles from parking too close to the crosswalk.

For more information e-mail Traffic Comments or phone (902) 490-4860.