News / Calgary

Calgary ups pedestrian safety game with reflective sleeves

Locally-made product could provide drivers warnings at a lower price than costly lights

Some crosswalks in Calgary are being outfitted with neon sleeves to help show where crosswalks are located in Calgary. The elementary school Our Lady Of The Assumption had one of their crosswalks outfitted with the new signage.

Kenneth Appleby / Metro

Some crosswalks in Calgary are being outfitted with neon sleeves to help show where crosswalks are located in Calgary. The elementary school Our Lady Of The Assumption had one of their crosswalks outfitted with the new signage.

The city is getting ready to roll up their sleeves, and roll out a product that could help pedestrians feel safer.

The program has been piloting in northwest Calgary with positive feedback from residents, so there's a chance more crosswalks across the city could be getting the reflective sleeves.

At $30 a pop, they're a cost-effective step to help the city improve Crosswalk visibility, and have little upkeep. Rapid Flashing Beacons (RFB) cost about $30,000. The sleeves have a 360 degree view, and are said to be more visible than bigger and more expensive signs.

Coun. Ward Sutherland, who has had positive feedback about the project, said he's hoping they will extend the sleeves into school zones city-wide.

"They're going really well," said Sutherland. The councillor was concerned when communities who were asking for, and needed, improved visibility for pedestrian crossings weren't eligible for the expensive RFB. After doing some research and finding solutions in other jurisdictions he went to the folks in the Roads department, who came up with a made-in-Calgary solution.

"They're really economical…we have the possibility of rolling these out across the city, and maybe at all the school zones too."

Sutherland said the cost, at approximately $800,000 for the school zones, could be allocated through using part of the $73 million in surplus capital from 2015.

"The intention of the reflective sleeves, especially on roads that have a curve or vertical curve, they increase the reflective nature of the crossing," said Troy McLeod, director of Roads. "This enhances the signage, so we don't have to spend the money on larger sings."

Many communities looking to acquire the popular RFB system often fail to rack up a score high enough on the warrant scale for the expensive piece of infrastructure. So, this sleeve, which isn't an expensive ask, could be the half-way step for some communities.

"Because the Rapid Flashing Beacons have a larger cost to install them we rank requests based on criteria: including vehicle volume, and roadway width," McLeod said. "These locations where the sleeves have been installed are locations where we're looking for higher conspicuity – generally the road is curved, there's higher pedestrian counts, but they don't quite meet the warrant for the actuated device."

The city's crosswalk hierarchy goes from unmarked to marked, reflective sleeves, RFB, traffic signal and so on.

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