Pedestrians in St. Marys must now press crosswalk buttons to activate downtown walking signals. The change comes as a result of a downtown traffic analysis study completed in June. The Town commissioned the study to verify the optimal timing and operation of the traffic signals installed in 2016 during the downtown reconstruction.
With intersecting arterial and collector roads, higher numbers of pedestrians and decreased sightlines due to building spacing, the downtown is the most traffic-heavy area in St. Marys. The decision to transition to pedestrian-activated walk signals will allow the Town to more accurately monitor and modify the timing of intersection lights. The result is a safer and more adaptable system – if pedestrians use the push buttons before crossing.
“Pedestrian-activated signals are becoming an industry best practice,” said Director of Public Works, Jed Kelly, “It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but ultimately, using the pedestrian buttons to activate the walk signals makes the system safer. It gives people of all abilities more time to cross the street. ”
The Town is reminding pedestrians that, according to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, it is illegal to begin crossing when facing a “don’t walk” signal.
It is also considered best practice for drivers to wait for pedestrians, especially those with children, to cross completely at crosswalks (although the law applies specifically to crossovers and areas with crossing guards).
Questions about the new signaling can be directed to the Public Works Coordinator at 519-284-2340, ext. 213. Details about pedestrian safety and crosswalks versus crossovers can be found on the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/pedestrian-safety.shtml