Metro Cities: How to see and be seen on the road this fall
From 'smart' crosswalks to musical bicycles, Metro looks at some ways cities and city-dwellers are ensuring people see each other after the clocks rolled back.
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As darkness falls an hour earlier across (most of) the country (stay strong, Saskatchewan), road users are on heightened alert. Here are some of the ways cities and city-dwellers are ensuring people see each other after the clocks rolled back.
Flag it down
Little buckets of fluorescent hand-held flags adorn more than 150 crosswalks across Halifax. Critics say they create a false sense of security, while advocates applaud the citizen-led effort to promote visibility. Last spring, city staff recommended removing the flags after a study of 50 intersections showed that only eight in 100 walkers used them. Instead, council voted to collect more robust data about crosswalk safety and visibility. The results are due by the end of this year.
The City of Calgary launched a pilot to increase visibility of crosswalk signs on the cheap. At sites with lower traffic volumes and narrower roads that don't warrant the $30,000 price tag of light-up beacons, the city outfitted signs with $30 plastic tubes in reflective colours. As of spring 2016 the project was going so well that city officials were hoping to roll out more and even market the home-grown solution to other cities.
To help cyclists command more of a presence on Mexico City streets, design interns Thomas Hoogewerf and Judit Parés developed a series of DIY pedal-powered music boxes. Unlike the shrill DING DING of a bike bell, the instruments create "friendly, rhythmic sound, creating a pleasant soundscape" wherever the cyclist goes. Plans and designs for the boxes are available online from their design firm, José de la O.
Tricked out trucks
Just last week San Francisco unveiled new so-called Vision Zero fire trucks, according to Streetsblog. Designed alongside pedestrian and cycling advocates, the new trucks are 25 cm shorter than traditional ones, can make u-turns in just over 7 metres, come equipped with cameras and screens, give drivers a 360-view of pedestrians and cyclists, and have recessed panels to avoid snagging people in narrow streets. The force is also looking at aerial ladder trucks that accommodate parking-protected bike lanes.
Paint on asphalt is so 20th century. A British architecture firm recently unveiled a crosswalk for the modern era: a sensor-filled LED panel that uses machine learning to adapt to different road users at different times. A prototype was installed on a London TV set to test it out. Among the innovations: warning lights for pedestrians buried in their phones, blind spot warnings for trucks to watch for cyclists, and wider walkways for busier times of day.