New crosswalk standards take more than traffic into account

Crosswalks where two women were hit earlier this year could qualify for upgrades under new national standards adopted by the city of Edmonton late last year
Mary Tychkowsky uses the same crosswalk at 95th Avenue and 92nd Street where an 84-year-old woman was struck in April. Tychkowsky has been fighting to get the crosswalk upgraded for the last two years. (CBC)

New national standards mean that traffic and pedestrian volumes won’t be the only factors used in putting a certain type of crosswalk on a road. 

The new standards, adopted by the city of Edmonton at the end of 2013, were outlined in a report requested by Coun. Ben Henderson. 

Henderson asked for the report last April after an 84-year-old woman was hit while she was crossing 95th Avenue at 92nd Street in a marked crosswalk. 

“Someone got hit and our only response so far, even to this day, is just to repaint the lines that were there,” Henderson said during Wednesday’s transportation committee meeting.

Montgomery Place resident Ellen Williams said she has had some near misses in the 95th Avenue crosswalk, (CBC )

The crossing at Jasper Avenue and 119th Street, where a young woman was struck in July, could also be upgraded under the new standards.

The crosswalk was deemed appropriate when complaints were made before. That could change, particularly with new residential developments in the area.

“So it’s not a given that it’s going to be there, but we’re going to take that broader look at the location and if it seems to fit what’s going on out there,”  said Craig Walbaum, the city’s director of traffic operations.

“It’s not just a simple number crunch. It wasn’t just that before, but the new guide tells us to really look more contextually and proactively at what’s happening in the environment.”

Four high-traffic corridors a priority 

The woman who was struck in April lives at Montgomery Place, an apartment complex in Strathearn that’s home to about 300 seniors.

The woman has recovered, but there have been close calls since then as Montgomery Place residents use that crosswalk to get to stores and a medical clinic across the street.

“I've been missed a couple of times crossing there,” resident Ellen Williams said.

Williams wants the city to install an overhead light that flashes whenever a pedestrian pushes a button.

“Because those signs don't mean nothing to people … the lines mean nothing,” she said. “But if you put a flashing light it would help.”

Mary Tychkowsky has spent the last two years fighting for an upgraded crosswalk at Montgomery Place. A resident herself, Tychkowsky says it “breaks her heart” to watch seniors try to cross the street.

“A lot of them are handicapped, wheelchairs, walkers,” she said.

When Tychkowsky asked for an upgraded crosswalk, she was told that the traffic and pedestrian volume wasn’t high enough. 

But that could change. On Wednesday, councillors asked the transportation department to prepare a report on how local information could be taken into account when decisions are made about crosswalks.

Councillors also want enhanced markings near schools, seniors residences, transit hubs and high pedestrian areas. The report is expected next spring.

The city is reviewing crosswalks along Jasper Avenue, 109th Street, Whyte Avenue and 104th Avenue to see if upgrades need to be made.

Changes to those four high-traffic corridors could come next year. However, the city allocates $2 million a year to traffic signal upgrades, so that’s why those areas have been made the priority.

Mary Tychkowski hopes newer standards could fix the crosswalk outside Montgomery Place.

“I would have a closure after 26 months."