Crossovers won’t help keep pedestrians safe and may in fact harm them

Opinion Mar 30, 2017 by Gord Bowes Hamilton Mountain News

The lightbulb went off at a pedestrian crossover education campaign on Upper Sherman last week.

While there was a slightly chaotic scene — traffic cones, city trucks and half a dozen people in orange safety vests — it is clear many drivers don’t understand the new style of crossings popping up across Hamilton.

Technically, they are called crossovers, but that term conjures images of safe passage in the form of a foot bridge over a busy highway. Crosswalks, a term used and understood for decades to get pedestrians across busy streets, is what they really are.

The province introduced crossovers in 2016. There are three types; some may have lights and overhead signs, but they all have pavement markings and roadside signage.

However, while they give pedestrians the right of way and are supposed to give those on foot an extra measure of safety when crossing busy streets, they really are an accident waiting to happen — one that could be avoided by sticking with traffic light-style crosswalks.

It’s not that crossovers are new. They just aren’t visible enough.

On Upper Sherman at Rowntree/Atherley, many drivers were either confused by all the activity from the city’s education campaign or oblivious to their legal requirement to stop.

That particular crossover is the type with all the bells and whistles — overhead signs denoting the universal drawing of a pedestrian and flashing amber lights on both sides of the road, costing upwards of $10,000 — but it just doesn’t accomplish what it is supposed to.

The lights, while bright LEDs, are just slits that really don’t attract attention. The fact they are not hanging over the road diminishes the chances of them being seen.

A traffic signal which turns red to allow a pedestrian safe passage is what is needed. Drivers know red means stop. It’s so simple that only a government could take that working concept, try to fix it and end up with something that endangers people.

On Concession Street near the cancer centre, I’ve watched pedestrians wait for half a dozen cars to pass before a driver notices and stops at the crossover. (I’ve also seen people jaywalk within 30 metres of that crossover.)

On Limeridge Road at the rail trail, I’ve seen cyclists blow across the road without stopping and walking their bike, as the law requires.

The Limeridge crossover, is the lowest priority version, with signs and a zebra stripe across the road. In reality, a crossover there is nothing more than a $3,000 hug from city council. It does nothing to make the area safer — there’s not a lot of traffic there anyway — but it sends out a warm and cozy feeling, especially to people who don’t like cars.

If the city was serious about safety, it would install a crosswalk — the red light type — around the corner at Albion Falls, where a growing number of pedestrians play a form of running roulette between the lower parking lot and the natural wonder while drivers from the east round an essentially blind bend.

But that proper crosswalk costs upwards of $250,000. Something tells me, council would prefer to install the $3,000 one and hope its warm sentiments get the job done.

Gord Bowes is editor of the Mountain News.

Crossovers won’t help keep pedestrians safe and may in fact harm them

Opinion Mar 30, 2017 by Gord Bowes Hamilton Mountain News

The lightbulb went off at a pedestrian crossover education campaign on Upper Sherman last week.

While there was a slightly chaotic scene — traffic cones, city trucks and half a dozen people in orange safety vests — it is clear many drivers don’t understand the new style of crossings popping up across Hamilton.

Technically, they are called crossovers, but that term conjures images of safe passage in the form of a foot bridge over a busy highway. Crosswalks, a term used and understood for decades to get pedestrians across busy streets, is what they really are.

The province introduced crossovers in 2016. There are three types; some may have lights and overhead signs, but they all have pavement markings and roadside signage.

However, while they give pedestrians the right of way and are supposed to give those on foot an extra measure of safety when crossing busy streets, they really are an accident waiting to happen — one that could be avoided by sticking with traffic light-style crosswalks.

It’s not that crossovers are new. They just aren’t visible enough.

On Upper Sherman at Rowntree/Atherley, many drivers were either confused by all the activity from the city’s education campaign or oblivious to their legal requirement to stop.

That particular crossover is the type with all the bells and whistles — overhead signs denoting the universal drawing of a pedestrian and flashing amber lights on both sides of the road, costing upwards of $10,000 — but it just doesn’t accomplish what it is supposed to.

The lights, while bright LEDs, are just slits that really don’t attract attention. The fact they are not hanging over the road diminishes the chances of them being seen.

A traffic signal which turns red to allow a pedestrian safe passage is what is needed. Drivers know red means stop. It’s so simple that only a government could take that working concept, try to fix it and end up with something that endangers people.

On Concession Street near the cancer centre, I’ve watched pedestrians wait for half a dozen cars to pass before a driver notices and stops at the crossover. (I’ve also seen people jaywalk within 30 metres of that crossover.)

On Limeridge Road at the rail trail, I’ve seen cyclists blow across the road without stopping and walking their bike, as the law requires.

The Limeridge crossover, is the lowest priority version, with signs and a zebra stripe across the road. In reality, a crossover there is nothing more than a $3,000 hug from city council. It does nothing to make the area safer — there’s not a lot of traffic there anyway — but it sends out a warm and cozy feeling, especially to people who don’t like cars.

If the city was serious about safety, it would install a crosswalk — the red light type — around the corner at Albion Falls, where a growing number of pedestrians play a form of running roulette between the lower parking lot and the natural wonder while drivers from the east round an essentially blind bend.

But that proper crosswalk costs upwards of $250,000. Something tells me, council would prefer to install the $3,000 one and hope its warm sentiments get the job done.

Gord Bowes is editor of the Mountain News.

Crossovers won’t help keep pedestrians safe and may in fact harm them

Opinion Mar 30, 2017 by Gord Bowes Hamilton Mountain News

The lightbulb went off at a pedestrian crossover education campaign on Upper Sherman last week.

While there was a slightly chaotic scene — traffic cones, city trucks and half a dozen people in orange safety vests — it is clear many drivers don’t understand the new style of crossings popping up across Hamilton.

Technically, they are called crossovers, but that term conjures images of safe passage in the form of a foot bridge over a busy highway. Crosswalks, a term used and understood for decades to get pedestrians across busy streets, is what they really are.

The province introduced crossovers in 2016. There are three types; some may have lights and overhead signs, but they all have pavement markings and roadside signage.

However, while they give pedestrians the right of way and are supposed to give those on foot an extra measure of safety when crossing busy streets, they really are an accident waiting to happen — one that could be avoided by sticking with traffic light-style crosswalks.

It’s not that crossovers are new. They just aren’t visible enough.

On Upper Sherman at Rowntree/Atherley, many drivers were either confused by all the activity from the city’s education campaign or oblivious to their legal requirement to stop.

That particular crossover is the type with all the bells and whistles — overhead signs denoting the universal drawing of a pedestrian and flashing amber lights on both sides of the road, costing upwards of $10,000 — but it just doesn’t accomplish what it is supposed to.

The lights, while bright LEDs, are just slits that really don’t attract attention. The fact they are not hanging over the road diminishes the chances of them being seen.

A traffic signal which turns red to allow a pedestrian safe passage is what is needed. Drivers know red means stop. It’s so simple that only a government could take that working concept, try to fix it and end up with something that endangers people.

On Concession Street near the cancer centre, I’ve watched pedestrians wait for half a dozen cars to pass before a driver notices and stops at the crossover. (I’ve also seen people jaywalk within 30 metres of that crossover.)

On Limeridge Road at the rail trail, I’ve seen cyclists blow across the road without stopping and walking their bike, as the law requires.

The Limeridge crossover, is the lowest priority version, with signs and a zebra stripe across the road. In reality, a crossover there is nothing more than a $3,000 hug from city council. It does nothing to make the area safer — there’s not a lot of traffic there anyway — but it sends out a warm and cozy feeling, especially to people who don’t like cars.

If the city was serious about safety, it would install a crosswalk — the red light type — around the corner at Albion Falls, where a growing number of pedestrians play a form of running roulette between the lower parking lot and the natural wonder while drivers from the east round an essentially blind bend.

But that proper crosswalk costs upwards of $250,000. Something tells me, council would prefer to install the $3,000 one and hope its warm sentiments get the job done.

Gord Bowes is editor of the Mountain News.