An Ottawa pedestrian safety group wants to see changes to how the city’s intersections work.

Walk Ottawa said it’s unhappy with the need to request a walk signal at many intersections, which give a green light for vehicles but a “Don’t Walk” signal for pedestrians.

“Pedestrians shouldn't have to ask permission in order to cross the street,” said Wallace Beaton of Walk Ottawa.

“If a green light is activated for vehicles, the pedestrian signal should come on automatically.”

Differences in crossing time 

Pedestrians get less time to cross if they don't request to — 12 seconds compared to 22 seconds, for example.

Wallace Beaton Walk Ottawa

Wallace Beaton of Walk Ottawa says driver inconvenience shouldn't trump pedestrian safety. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

The City of Ottawa said some lights in the downtown core always display a “Walk” signal to go with a green light, but they have to find a balance with vehicle traffic.

“If you were to bring up the pedestrian phase all the time, there'd be a lot of times when the pedestrian is not at the intersection and the light would remain red for no real reason,” said manager of traffic operations Chris Brinkman.

Beaton said traffic flow should place pedestrians first, even if it inconveniences drivers.

“Balance to me suggests status quo,” he said.

“If we're really serious in Ottawa about complete streets, it means we have to look at how we're operating our streets.”