Councillor removes 'beg buttons' at Old Ottawa South crosswalks
Pedestrian safety shouldn't be jeopardized to improve traffic flow, Shawn Menard says
An Ottawa city councillor has gotten rid of what he calls "beg buttons" — the buttons pedestrians have to press before getting a crossing signal — along a busy street in Old Ottawa South.
Capital Coun. Shawn Menard said he's eliminated the need to press the buttons on a stretch of Bank Street between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
During those times, whenever the traffic lights change, the walk signal will now automatically display.
'Minimal' traffic disruption
The buttons are intended to help traffic flow efficiently along main streets by only granting pedestrians the right to cross if they've first been pushed.
However, sometimes people are left unable to cross either because they forgot to press the button, Menard said, or they're physically unable to.
It made sense to change this back to the way it should be — which is giving pedestrians priority.- Shawn Menard
Menard told CBC Radio's In Town and Out that pedestrian safety should not be jeopardized in order to make roads more efficient for motor vehicles.
"There is going to be some traffic flow that [will be] impeded [but it] will be very minimal," Menard said.
"For a pedestrian safety enhancement of this sort, to us it made sense to change this back to the way it should be — which is giving pedestrians priority, since they're the vulnerable road user."
Hopes idea spreads
The idea came about, Menard said, after his team examined intersections in the area and noticed the need — especially in areas where children cross.
The buttons are no longer in use along Bank Street at the intersections with Belmont, Glen, Cameron and Aylmer avenues, Menard said.
He added that they're also looking to get rid of the buttons at Riverdale Avenue.
Menard said he hopes this initiative spreads to other parts of the city as well.
"I'm hopeful now that that's been done here, it can be done in many other places," he said. "I think we're off to a good start."
CBC Radio's In Town and Out