No doubt many students have noticed the bright flashing lights and solar panel installation at the crosswalk to the CAT building on 106 Street. The crosswalk had been a vocal topic around campus for much of the fall semester. There were many close calls between students and vehicles and it appeared to be just a matter of time before a serious incident occurred. Something had to be done. With winter fast approaching and with it shorter daylight hours, a collaboration of parties came to a meaningful resolution.
The recent addition of the new safety features is a result of serious lobbying from NAIT Students’ Association representatives that led to a meeting with the City of Edmonton and Coun. Bev Esslinger.
“The installation of upgraded safety devices on 106 Street at the NAIT campus is a great example of how open channels of communications between organizations and efficient process can provide rapid results,” said Doug Jones, deputy city manager.
The meeting to review traffic and pedestrian safety around the NAIT campus took place in mid-October. One of the items raised was the concern students had using a marked crosswalk on 106 Street in order to access the newly constructed CAT building.
“We had a few meetings with Coun. Bev Esslinger, one in which she involved transportation authorities,” said Katie Spencer, NAITSA VP External. “This was very helpful as we were able to directly communicate our concerns with them. We also mentioned the issues to NAIT administration.”
The city quickly reviewed pedestrian activity at this location. Based on those observations, the location was an ideal candidate for the installation of one of the city’s newer solar powered rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFB), which can be installed quickly and at a relatively low cost compared to more traditional crosswalk amber flashers. The city worked quickly to ensure the work was completed before the end of 2016. The swift response was a welcome surprise for the NAITSA staff.
“They connected me with Doug Jones,” said Spencer. “Within a few weeks of speaking with him, the flashing crosswalk light was installed.
“We are very pleased with their promptness, as we were expecting a much slower process.”
For Spencer, she was glad to have the safety issue addressed.
“The crosswalk was extremely dangerous but fortunately there were no accidents or injuries that acted as a catalyst.”
The new setup is a welcome change for students, staff and anyone else using the busy crosswalk. A setup like this, while cheaper than the full crossing lights like those near the pedway, comes at a cost. Thankfully this was not a financial burden borne by NAIT.
“As the street is city property, the city was responsible for the cost,” said Spencer. Student response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I think that it (new crosswalk safety lights) is a huge benefit for students to safely cross the street. It was very dangerous before and I was often wary about crossing at that crosswalk,” said student Christina Gold.
That danger has been addressed but problems still linger around pedestrian safety. Recently there have been some near misses with people crossing against the light at the bigger crosswalk within sight of the pedway and crossing the middle of 106 Street in random spots, hopping over the pile of snow and risking their safety with a fall or worse.
With all of the options and added safety features available to students, staff and others, the risk by not using the proper crosswalks or walking with the light seems foolish at best, fatal at worst.
– A.J. Shewan, Issues Editor
Image by Hannah Alimonti