Two interesting pedestrian initiatives are coming to the Works Committee of City Council on Monday, Sept. 11.
The first is a proposal to extend the crosswalk improvement program already begun on major arterials to minor arterial roads (PDF). It’s a straightforward and useful proposal. The interesting thing is that, unlike many feel-good pedestrian gestures, it will cost some real money ($6.5 million over 4 years). This is a good opportunity to see if council is willing to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to pedestrians. Even if it is approved, it will have to be watched to see if it gets cut when the budget crunches come.
The second item is a proposal to put zebra markings at all pedestrian crossovers (PDF) at traffic lights and crosswalks. The markings will be added as streets are re-paved, which means it will take about 20 years to do the whole city. The plan will come at no extra cost to the city, because it will reduce the number of expensive concrete/paver crosswalks the city puts in. The city has been testing various methods of creating long-term markings, and I hope they’ve found a better one — the zebra stripes put in on College as a pilot when it was re-paved are already coming off.
A fascinating part of this proposal is the study of two pilot intersections the city did to see if these zebra stripes made a difference. They looked not only at collisions, but at vehicle-pedestrian conflicts (which they don’t define, but I assume it means, for example, where cars get uncomfortably close to crossing pedestrians). At Mount Pleasant and Eglinton, the zebra markings reduced such incidents by 82%, rising to 88% after six months — an extraordinary difference. (The difference at the other intersection wasn’t notable because there weren’t a lot of conflicts in the first place). Surveys also showed that pedestrians felt noticeably more comfortable when using zebra crossings.
The study started quite a long time ago, so it’s good to see it finally coming to fruition. Council had better pass it before the election — any more delays would be ridiculous.
(It also reminds me of a place in Oxford, England where a zebra crossing was combined with a speed bump, resulting in a street sign that read “Warning: Humped Zebra Crossing”.)
photo by Adam Krawesky