A new report gives Edmonton a passing grade in how it operates its crosswalks — the same week the sixth pedestrian of the year died after being struck on an Edmonton street.
The pedestrian crosswalk audit released Thursday said "the program is being effectively managed and improving pedestrian safety."
The report from the city auditor's office also found that the city could do better at checking whether new street-crossing signals are effective.
The city installed 54 new marked crosswalks and nearly 20 flashing beacons between 2015 and 2016, the report shows.
Gord Cebryk, the branch manager with the department of parks and roads, acknowledged a few areas could be improved.
"We certainly agree with the recommendations and have started to proceed on implementing some of them already," Cebryk said.
The chair of Paths for People, a pedestrian safety advocacy group, said city council has a positive vision but safety standards need to be higher.
"We think that council is generally moving in the right direction. We just need city administration to catch up," Conrad Nobert told CBC News Thursday. "We would like the standards tightened up."
He said the city could listen more to people in the affected communities.
"There could be a neighbourhood where everyone knows that a crossing is dangerous, where there are lots of near-hits. People are stressed out when they try to cross and they're getting hit or almost hit."
Nobert said safety goes beyond signals and signs and he would like to see geometric changes to some crosswalks.
"The absolute safest crosswalk you can get is one that has the signals to stop the cars, but also is raised," Nobert said.
"So that the person walking, they're elevated in the view of the driver so that they are very obvious when they're crossing."
Cebryk said narrowing the roadway as it approaches a crosswalk also works by decreasing the space a pedestrian has to cross and also changes the perception for motorists.
"Typically when you have those narrowings in the roadway, that's a cue to drivers to either slow down or to pay more attention to what's happening at the intersection," Cebryk said, adding that the city is considering this configuration in some places.
Money is not enough
"People are losing their lives," Nobert said.
A 65-year-old woman is the latest to be killed after being struck crossing Jasper Avenue in the area of 115 Street on Tuesday. The police did not specify whether or not the woman was in a crosswalk at the time.
Six pedestrians have died in Edmonton so far this year. Last year there were 10 pedestrian fatalities, and the highest number in the past 15 years was in 2007, when 13 pedestrians died in street collisions.
Pedestrian injuries went down over the same 15-year period, even though the city's population increased.
"We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on roads — to make vehicles go fast — in this city per year," Nobert said.
- Pedestrian killed in early morning collision
- Driver charged in early March pedestrian death
- Crosswalk report going to council committee next week
"For us it's a really urgent issue, we think it is for Edmontonians as well."
However, the report shows the city has been spending more money to install crosswalk upgrades, including pedestrian-actuated crossing lights and rapid flashing beacons.
The report shows the estimated capital costs for installing crosswalks jumped from about $1.4 million in 2015 to $4.4 million in 2016.
"It's not just installing crosswalks," Cebryk said. "It's looking at how we can educate pedestrians and motorists of both the shared responsibilities."
Under the city's "Vision Zero" campaign, Edmonton's goal is to have no traffic fatalities or serious injuries by 2020.