Pedestrians safer without crosswalks at non-controlled intersections, traffic specialist says

Harry Sullivan
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TRURO – A crosswalk at the College Road/Burris Drive intersection would be more dangerous for pedestrians than leaving it without one, a traffic specialist says.

That perspective, as expressed by Rob Jerrott, district traffic supervisor with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, raised the eyebrows of some Colchester County councillors during discussion at this week’s council meeting.

“I find that hard to believe, because why do we actually build crosswalks if that’s the case?” asked Coun. Wade Parker, while raising the issue Tuesday night in response to a letter the municipality had received from Jerrott on the issue.

Parker also questioned the department’s position that crosswalks are not warranted for areas where fewer than 100 pedestrians cross the road over a 12-hour period.

“I don’t know if we have a crosswalk in Colchester County that you would have 100 pedestrians cross it in 12 hours,” he said.

When contacted by the Truro Daily News, Jerrott agreed that few crosswalks within the area, outside of the Town of Truro, would meet that standard, because the crosswalks would have been created during an earlier period using different traffic warrants than are used today.

“We know better now,” he said.

And Jerrott said his position regarding Burris Drive is based on the fact there is no traffic light or stop sign at that intersection, combined with the relatively low number of pedestrians who cross there.

“The big concern I have with that intersection, in order for a crosswalk to actually make pedestrians safer, there’s a minimum amount of use that has to be there,” he said.

Otherwise, if motorists become accustomed to rarely having to stop at a given crosswalk because of the low number of pedestrians who use it, they become immune to the fact it there, he said.

“It’s safer not to have a crosswalk, which kind of encourages pedestrians to look both ways and choose an appropriate time to cross the road,” he said.

“It’s kind of like the crosswalk that cried wolf. You have driven by it so many times and never seen a pedestrian or very seldom and so you don’t do that (heed it.)”

Jerrott said a traffic study he conducted last year, just up College Road at Sunset Drive, which leads into Redcliff Middle school, also failed to meet the traffic standard of 100 pedestrians over a 12-hour period.

“If it’s not a stop-controlled intersection, you really want to try and avoid them whenever you can, those crosswalks, because it really raises the expectation of safety on the part of the pedestrian without actually increasing their safety,” Jerrott said.

“And that’s the concern I have with putting one there, is that it will not in fact improve the safety of pedestrians.”

Nonetheless, Jerrott said he will be conducting a study of the intersection, likely in June, when the weather is warmer and during peak periods when more walkers are out and about and while students are still in school, so that he can determine what the actual numbers are.

“It is a little counter intuitive the way it works compared to the way everybody perceives that it works,” he said. “If I thought it was safer I would certainly put one in.”

 

hsullivan@trurodailynews.com

Twitter: @tdnharry

Organizations: Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Truro Daily News, Redcliff Middle school

Geographic location: Colchester County, Truro

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