News / Ottawa

Councillor eyes fix for Slater and Elgin intersection

Coun. Catherine McKenney is considering better signage for the busy downtown intersection, which has seen multiple pedestrian collisions.

The intersection of Slater and Elgin has caused problems for pedestrians in the past.

Emma Jackson/Metro

The intersection of Slater and Elgin has caused problems for pedestrians in the past.

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney says she’ll take a closer look at one of downtown Ottawa’s worst pedestrian intersections.

Slater Street at Elgin had five pedestrian collisions between 2010 and 2014, tying it for third place in Centretown, behind Bank at Gloucester streets and Bank at Laurier Avenue, the city said.

And going back to 2004, there have been 12 pedestrian collisions there, according to data from Citizens for Safe Cycling.

Citywide, the intersection is middle of the pack for brush-ups between drivers and hoofers. Rideau Street is far more dangerous for people crossing the road, and even intersections further west, like Churchill Avenue at Richmond Road see more problems overall.

What makes Slater at Elgin uniquely treacherous, though, is the configuration of the National Arts Centre parking garage entrance, which runs off Slater in the middle of the intersection.

Some northbound drivers don’t realize they have to heed the red light before they turn right. Instead they blow right over the busy Elgin crosswalk, even as the signal tells people they can go.

Last week, a confused driver honked at a senior who had the right of way.

McKenney blamed the intersection’s design and said she’ll ask staff this week to see if better signage might help drivers negotiate the juncture.

In general, McKenney said she has been pressing staff to install advance pedestrian signals at busy intersections. These give walkers a four- or five-second head start on turning cars, and can make a huge difference to safety, especially when cars can’t turn right on a red.

“When you have that kind of restriction it calms everyone,” McKenney said.

She said complaints about the intersection of Preston and Somerset streets have gone down since the technology was installed.