Edmonton will show digital warnings in high collision areas
Advocate says the city needs better infrastructure to reduce the number of collisions
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New signs that warn drivers about pedestrians in high collision areas are only the first step toward making walking safe in Edmonton, says a spokesperson for an advocacy group.
Earlier this week, the city unveiled digital messages, like ‘Watch for pedestrians,’ on the black display boards usually used to divert vehicles during construction.
Anna Ho with Paths for People said the signs are helpful, because they make drivers slow down, but not enough.
“I think ultimately it’s changing infrastructure that really slows traffic down and provides good visibility that will help," she said.
Phrases on the boards include ‘Watch out for each other,’ ‘Increase the gap’ and ‘High ped collision area ahead.’
The messages are part of Edmonton's Vision Zero strategy, the city’s attempt to eventually reduce traffic fatalities and injuries to zero, said Ken Karunaratne, a technical specialist with road safety engineering with the city.
Karunaratne said the city decided to roll out the message boards because warm winter temperatures saw more people walking outside.
“Drivers, a lot of times, don’t expect pedestrians at some of those crossings,” he said. “The locations we’re putting them [in] are where we’ve seen a high number of collisions.”
One is 84 Avenue and Gateway Boulevard, which saw a permanent board go up this week. A portable board has also been placed on Whyte Avenue.
Karunaratne said the city plans to look at collision data after a year to see if the boards reduced collisions between people driving and people walking.
But Ho said her group wants Edmonton to prioritize building pedestrian-oriented infrastructure, like raised sidewalks and narrower streets.
“What we really need to focus on in Edmonton is infrastructure, which would be our preference [rather] than to see more signage,” she said.
“If your streets aren’t designed to allow pedestrians and cyclists to walk or bike in a safe manner, then the signs will only go so far.”