“Pauvres piétons” exclaimed the front page of La Presse today. Inside the paper, a series of articles look at pedestrian safety in the city, noting that the number of pedestrians injured each year continues to increase.One article makes the startling—though not surprising—revelation that low-income pedestrians are far more vulnerable to being injured by cars, the reason being that wealthier neighbourhoods are much likelier to restrict automobile traffic than poor ones. You can see this for yourself: wander around Outremont or Westmount and you’ll notice stop signs on every corner, well-marked crosswalks, speed bumps and (especially in Westmount) lots of barriers against through traffic. Take a walk in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and you’ll see streets that are designed not for safety but for swift movement of traffic.
To its credit, the city has acknowledged this disparity and will be taking steps over the next year to address it. Already, important measures have been taken to calm traffic in neighbourhoods across the city, including the installation of speed bumps and mid-block stops on residential streets and corner bulb-outs on major arteries. In the summer, more and more streets are being narrowed with flower pots and planters. All of these measures have been proven to slow drivers down: on Waverly Street in Mile End, where speed bumps were installed between Bernard and Van Horne, the average speed of cars fell from 36 km/h to 28 km/h. The overall number of cars that drove down the street fell by more than a quarter. Over the next year, the city will also improve pedestrian safety on major streets, reports La Presse:
La Ville compte donc revoir l’aménagement de 64 carrefours cette année. Le chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges sera notamment visé entre le chemin Queen Mary et la rue Jean-Talon. La rue Notre-Dame Est ainsi que plusieurs rues des arrondissements du Plateau-Mont-Royal, de Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie et de Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension sont aussi touchées.
Plusieurs types d’aménagement ont été retenus. Les trottoirs seront notamment élargis pour ralentir les voitures et diminuer le temps de traverse des piétons. La visibilité pourra aussi être améliorée avec des interdictions de stationnement au coin des rues.
Il y a aura aussi la modernisation de feux de circulation, notamment par l’implantation de «feux en aérien», visible au milieu de la chaussée.
Still, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, especially with billions of dollars now being poured into Montreal’s roads. The Notre-Dame controversy is one example. Although it is meant to relieve congestion and thereby remove cars from east end streets, its plan to increase Notre-Dame’s capacity by more than 20,000 cars per day could very well backfire and end up dumping even more cars into east end neighbourhoods — the very poverty-stricken neighbourhoods that have, until now, been deprived of traffic-calming measures.
I’m curious to hear your take on this. Which streets and which intersections do you think are the most dangerous for pedestrians? How can they be improved?