Fredericton's pitch to ban red light turns questioned

Fredericton Coun. Greg Ericson says a proposal to ban right turns on red lights at six downtown intersections is causing many citizens to ask legitimate questions.

Coun. Greg Ericson says the public is raising important questions about the proposal

A Fredericton councillor is putting the brakes on an idea to ban right turns on red lights at six intersections in the city’s downtown.

The recommendation is one of 25 measures suggested in a consultant's report last year to cut down on the rising number of pedestrian vehicle collisions.

Coun. Greg Ericson, a member of the city’s transportation committee, said the idea of prohibiting right turns on red lights is in the engineering phase now and more work needs to be done before the proposal is implemented.

"I don't think the community itself sees it as a very viable notion right now, but with signage, with a public education campaign, and the enforcement that comes with it, we certainly could implement it," he said.

"What we need to decide is whether or not implementing this idea is going to efficiently achieve the intended result, which would be a reduction in pedestrian-related accidents."

Darren Charters, a Fredericton traffic engineer, points to intersections that could soon prohibit right turns on red lights. (CBC)

Ericson said pedestrian-vehicle collisions have risen by 10 per cent a year for the last three years. He said businesses in the downtown core have said they routinely see vehicle-pedestrian accidents and near misses in the area.

A pilot project could start this spring at several intersections, including Regent Street and Queen Street, Regent Street and King Street and Westmorland Street and Brunswick Street.

Ericson said it would be a complicated proposal to implement, so he said it would be crucial to create an education campaign to raise awareness of the idea.

The city councillor said he is looking forward to hearing from the city’s traffic engineer. Ericson said many of the comments raised by citizens are valid and the city will study those issues.

"We need to find optimal balance between pedestrian safety and traffic flow," he said.

Darren Charters, a traffic engineer with the city, said last week the city planners are focusing on the downtown intersections for the pilot project because they are some of the busiest pedestrian areas in the city.

The added safety being brought by the proposed traffic change could come with longer wait times for cars.

Charters said they expect to see a delay of about four to six seconds per vehicle in the six targeted intersections.