New Essex crosswalk signs mounted in middle of the road

It's a bold move to highlight crosswalks and pedestrian safety, in downtown Essex — signs mounted in the middle of the road.

'Oh, there's something going on here' — drivers more aware of pedestrians

Chris Nepszy, director of infrastructure and development for Essex, stands beside one of the town's new crosswalk signs. (Jason Viau/CBC)

It's a bold move to highlight crosswalks and pedestrian safety in downtown Essex — signs mounted in the middle of the road.

Four signs, which are about one-metre in height, have been installed on the yellow centre line this summer. And Essex is the first municipality in the region to put them up.

Jordan Miner uses the crosswalk on a regular basis. He has a learning disability and appreciates the new initiative. 

"It helps me a lot to cross, even for someone who is mentally challenged, it really helps," he said. 

Jordon Miner walks around downtown Essex frequently and says the new crosswalk signs make him feel safer when going across the street. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Since they were installed, Miner said he's already noticed vehicles are slowing down more often around the crosswalks.

You're able to cross easier and not be afraid someone is going to run you over.- Abigail Chaulk, Grade 12 student

With a relatively low cost of a few hundred dollars per sign, the town has also found these simple signs to be very effective.

"What we found, which wasn't expected — pedestrians now, whereas they used to cross wherever they wanted, they see the sign ... so they're drawn to cross there," said Chris Nepszy, director of infrastructure and development.

The Town of Essex has mounted four of these signs at different crosswalks in the downtown. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Drivers more aware

And since it's smack dab in the middle of the street, it also gets the attention of drivers to make them think "oh, there's something going on here."

"We definitely see when you watch the motorists, they're aware, they start to look and that's what you want," said Nepszy.

Signs make town 'pedestrian-friendly'

The signs aren't required under any sort of legislation. After seeing them on display at a recent trade show in Toronto, the town wanted to take its crosswalks a step further.

"When you see these signs within the town, you do get that feeling that it's a pedestrian-friendly town," said Nepszy.

Abigail Chaulk, a Grade 12 student, feels 'safe' using crosswalks in downtown Essex because the sign in the middle of the road alerts drivers. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Students who attend Essex District High School just down the street have also noticed a shift in how drivers react around crosswalks.

"People seem to stop more and you're able to cross easier and not be afraid someone is going to run you over," said Abigail Chaulk, a Grade 12 student.

Even though these are new to Essex, other communities in Ottawa and Quebec have already adopted this type of crosswalk.

About the Author

Jason Viau

Jason Viau is a video journalist, TV host and radio newsreader at CBC Windsor. He was born in North Bay, but has lived in Windsor for most of his life. Since graduating from St. Clair College, he's worked in print, TV and radio. Email him at jason.viau@cbc.ca