Get ready to be upset. You may not want to see these pic or watch the video. Not suitable for children or the squeamish.
On Friday afternoon last week, a pedestrian was killed at the intersection of Rochester and Somerset Street.
(photo above by Chris Roussakis, Postmedia)
Here is a police reconstruction on Tuesday. You may assume what you wish, but you don’t know how accurate this is. It is a reconstruction, not a video clip of the actual event. Yes, it fosters speculation in amateurs like us.
The vehicle in the reconstruction is the actual one involved in “the accident”. Here it is at the intersection:
approaching the crosswalk …
crossing the crosswalk. Somewhere in the journey a pedestrian was hit and killed.
The crosswalk paint is in good condition, as they were repainted by the city on Thursday evening – Friday morning, hours before the collision.
Got the pictures? Still OK? The photos mask the sense of movement, speed, and sound.
Here’s the movie of the police reconstruction on Tuesday morning as witnessed by a neighbour. It may upset you:
I do not want to leap to any conclusion as to the cause of the collision, but one thing sure stands out to me.
At SOME intersections along Somerset Street, pedestrians get an advanced walk light, to allow them into the intersection first, so they can be seen.
At SOME intersections along Somerset Street, pedestrians get a walk light simultaneous to cars getting a green light. Cars also get to turn right on red.
At SOME intersections along Somerset Street, pedestrians only get a walk light if they push the button to request one. A beg button, in the jargon.
At SOME intersections along Somerset Street, it is necessary to beg to cross in one direction but not the other direction.
At SOME intersections, it is necessary to beg at certain times of the day, but not at other times of the day.
At SOME intersections, a beg button only works on one crosswalk, so if you take advantage of a walk light in the other direction to cross in two stages (say, one east, one south) you may not get a walk light even though you pushed the beg button on the “wrong side” of the street.
At some intersections, the lights go from green to yellow to red and then in about one second go back to green again. God help if you are cyclist or a pedestrian that started out on the green light.
Confused? You bet. I can only remember the applicable rules for small number of intersection segments, all the rest are unlearned and must be explored anew each crossing. And it is annoying to walk some distance to push the beg button only to discover it wasn’t necessary to push it, the walk light was automatic.
And if you are one second too late because you have a red walk light but a green car light, well tough, you gotta wait forever while the whole intersection cycles through all other movements.
Why is it so complicated?
Does it lead to pedestrian error or frustration that then causes potentially dangerous movements, such as walking without the walk light when one realizes it won’t be coming on and the wait will seem interminable to get the next one?
Do motorists “jump” their green light when they see the advanced walk signal come on? Do motorists turning right on a red ever swivel their head from looking left 110 degrees to look right 140 degrees to check if a pedestrian or cyclist has approached the intersection?
Does anyone care?
The simplest and easiest and cheapest solution to work toward zero pedestrian deaths and reduced injuries is to have the walk light operate on EVERY green light signal phase. This would also calm traffic.
A second, simple and fairly cheap safety improvement might be to prohibit right turns on red at all urban intersections within the greenbelt. This could be a prohibition sign or (much cheaper) a red arrow replacing the red ball light in the signal head.
Or maybe pedestrians just aren’t worth the cost and inconvenience.
Our city runs on complaints. No complaints, no fix. Join your community association. Email your councillor or the mayor.
thanks to CD for the photos and video. Now, watch the video again and see how unsafe the intersection design is.