The Nova Scotia government is asking for public feedback by January 8 on 65 pages of regulations which will dictate how roads should be used by the public, and also potentially allow for some safer controls and infrastructure for vulnerable road users. Martyn Williams has some excellent suggestions.
Martyn Williams: 2020 has been yet another year marked and marred by vulnerable road user fatalities, all of them seniors. An urban or suburban community that can’t support people to move around safely without a car cannot function. People with disabilities, children and seniors in particular are placed in the unwilling position of performing dangerous stunts, using crosswalks that do not meet their unique needs and abilities.
Martyn Williams: A serious incident on a marked crosswalk earlier this week during evening darkness raises several questions. We have known for some time that faded paint and an overhead sign with no flashing lights are woefully inadequate for a main road that likely sees average traffic speeds in excess of 50 km/h, says a lawyer who lives in the area.
With eight incidents involving pedestrians between October 19 and 27 Halifax isn’t getting safer, no matter what councillors tell us. The city’s approach needs an overhaul, involving genuine participation by the community and clearly identifying and prioritizing those most prejudiced by unsafe conditions – children, the disabled, people of colour, seniors and residents in areas of affordable housing, often next to arterial roads, writes Martyn Williams.
Two recent reports to Halifax Council, one on the pros and cons of right turns on red, and another an update on the Vision Zero Framework, show that motorists are like royalty in the city, and vulnerable pedestrians are mostly on their own.
Martyn Williams: Seniors rely on walking or cycling for mobility because they may no longer drive for health reasons, or because it is the only way they can enjoy much needed exercise. But the infrastructure they use is built for vehicles to move quickly and easily, not to meet the safety requirements of vulnerable road users of all ages and abilities.
Martyn Williams writes a letter to city staff and councillors to plea for safer intersections for old people and people who live with disabilities. “This is not an issue where engineers may balance the cost to vulnerable road user lives against the benefit gained to traffic flow. It is a human rights issue that requires urgent action and intervention by leadership through appropriate policy.”
Martyn Williams writes the Halifax road safety steering committee after drivers killed 8 pedestrians on crosswalks since the beginning of 2018.
Martyn Williams: There were numerous core concerns raised by stakeholders and by design experts regarding Cogswell’s lack of connectivity, lack of character, and lack of genuine buy-in and involvement from the community and stakeholders. Now we must take time to reconsider Cogswell, before mistakes are made. The new Cogswell just exists on paper right now. Nothing is irreversible.
A 3-year construction-related closure of a Robie Street sidewalk will require either a long detour along Agricola, a very dangerous unmarked crosswalk crossing of Robie, or a one-kilometre detour along signalized crosswalks. That’s too hard for many people who are older or who live with disabilities, writes Martyn Williams.