By Rebecca Atkinson –
Residents are interested in seeing mid-block pedestrian crossings, but they won’t be coming to Kitchissippi anytime soon. A poll conducted on the Kitchissippi Times Instagram account found that 84 per cent of respondents would like to see mid-block pedestrian crossings in Westboro.
And although the interest is there, Coun. Jeff Leiper says the city is limited to the amount of improvements it can make in a year – and the mid-block crossings are simply not a top priority.
Mid-block pedestrian crossings are as they sound – locales marked halfway between two intersections where pedestrians may safely cross in areas where blocks are especially long. The amount of jaywalking in neighbourhoods would perhaps be minimized – and road safety increased – with the installation of such crossings.
Leiper is aware of two locations that could benefit from mid-block crossings: on Wellington Street West between Parkdale and Rosemount, and on Richmond Road between Churchill and Roosevelt. Park yourself in front of the MEC and you’re bound to see dozens of people jaywalk across Richmond Road.
“It’s not ideal having really long blocks where people are clearly expressing a desire to cross the street,” says Leiper.
While jaywalking isn’t a crime many are charged with, there is a $40 fine for pedestrians failing to use a crosswalk. According to Ottawa Police Services, it is possible to be charged if spotted by police. Leiper is aware that jaywalking happens frequently in Kitchissippi, but it isn’t something that often comes up in his office.
“While jaywalking isn’t something that we’ve identified as a problem,” says Leiper. “I think people still do it and they do it ‘safely.’”
Mid-block crossings are more of a “nice-to-have,” says Leiper. From a practical standpoint, they’re definitely possible, but he isn’t holding out hope that it’ll happen anytime soon since there are other projects considered higher priority for the city and its budget.
And besides, talk to any city councillor, and they’d be able to name a list of locations that could benefit from mid-block crossings in their ward. Kitchissippi is not the exception to the rule, and has no valid reasons to be treated differently than other wards.
According to the City of Ottawa website, there are several types of pedestrian crossovers. Type one crossovers were used in Ottawa in the early 1960s, but were questioned as potentially unsafe in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s, city council decided mid-block traffic control signals would be used in place of pedestrian crossovers, no longer implementing the crossovers. But in 2015 the City passed Bill 31, which introduced new crossovers – type two – to Ottawa. The City of Ottawa created a plan in 2016 to install 60 pedestrian crossovers each year for three years as part of a pilot program.
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