Last December, I posted about the book Urban Street Design Guide by the National Association of City Transportation Officials. This book is a highly graphical, paint-by-numbers guide to designing streets for 21st century cities. Along with the book, there is also an accompanying website which presents the same information.
One of my concerns is pedestrian safety. When it comes to signalized intersections, left and right hand turns create the most of risk collision.
With most currently signalized intersections, pedestrians and motorist get the “go” signal at the same time. Because of this, some motorists do not see pedestrians who have just started walking into an intersection. Other motorists try to make turns on a fresh green light to beat other traffic. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been mowed down as a pedestrians crossing at these intersections.
One of the recommendations in the Urban Street Design Guide is to create “Leading Pedestrian Interval” timing.
A Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) typically gives pedestrians a 3–7 second head start when entering an intersection with a corresponding green signal in the same direction of travel.
LPIs enhance the visibility of pedestrians in the intersection and reinforce their right-of-way over turning vehicles, especially in locations with a history of conflict.
Surrey recently changed the operation of one of their traffic signals at University Drive and Old Yale Road in their Downtown. The City has installed signs at that intersection reminding motorist to yield to pedestrians, and also introduced a LPI to give pedestrians a head start into the intersection.
I hope that this spreads to other intersections in Surrey, and communities in the South of Fraser and Metro Vancouver where there is a history of pedestrian/motorist conflict.
Over the last little while, Surrey has really started to put a concerted effort into making roads more accessible for all users. I commend the City for trying out new ideas. With the municipal election coming up, I hope the citizens of Surrey will vote for councilors and a mayor that will continue to supports Surrey's quest to become a more accessible community. It wasn't always this way.