Planning Streets for Everyone

Seniors at Lakeside Retirement Residence in Alcona have petitioned for a crosswalk that would allow them to cross safely to businesses on the north side of Innisfil Beach Rd. (full disclosure: a family member is a resident there) A quick internet search shows that seniors across the country petition for this amenity so regularly it makes you wonder why it isn’t mandatory.

Town Council had a reasonable solution in their lap when they were planning the Innisfil Beach Rd urbanization project. This would have been the ideal location for a raised median with a cross-over ramp through the center allowing seniors with walkers to safely navigate their way across the street at their own pace. The median would serve as a pedestrian safety island.

Considering that Council wasted $100,000 to rip up significant portions of the completed project, undoing years of planning, public consultation and consensus, and marring the streetscape in the process, spending about $50,000 to accommodate our seniors seems like money well spent. (Note to business owners: the seniors want to cross to spend money at your shops and services). 

There are a few reasons why a median might be a better solution than a conventional crosswalk. Ontario legislation makes it illegal for drivers to enter a crosswalk until the pedestrian has reached the opposite side of the street. The same does not apply where a median divides traffic into two opposing directions.

While crosswalks improve pedestrian safety, they may also create some potential hazards: (How do you get a crosswalk installed, City News, August, 2006)

  • May cause pedestrians to have a false sense of security and place themselves in an unnecessarily hazardous position with vehicular traffic
  • May cause the pedestrian to think that the motorist can/will stop in all cases, even when it is unsafe/impossible to do so
  • May cause a greater number of rear-end collisions, as pedestrians misjudge the intentions of motorists and don’t wait for appropriate gaps in traffic
  • May cause an increase in both pedestrian and motorist injuries
  • May foster disrespect for all pedestrian regulations and traffic controls if installed when not warranted.

Compare this with a “Raised Median / Pedestrian Refuge” (US Federal Highway Administration):

“Crossing the street can be a complex task for pedestrians. Pedestrians must estimate vehicle speeds, adjust their own walking speeds, determine adequacy of gaps, predict vehicle paths, and time their crossings appropriately. Drivers must see pedestrians, estimate vehicle and pedestrian speeds, determine the need for action, and react … Raised medians and pedestrian refuge islands allow pedestrians to cross one direction of traffic at a time. This significantly reduces the complexity of the crossing. They also provide a space to install improved lighting at pedestrian crossing locations.”

How many of you noticed the sign at the entrance to Crossroads Plaza? “Why Leave Town? Thank-you for Shopping Local” Chances are, once people are in their cars they are just as likely to be heading out of town as shopping in it.

Maybe our senior residents have handed Council an opportunity to redeem themselves by planning streets for use by everyone including pedestrians.

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5 thoughts on “Planning Streets for Everyone

  1. why would this “current” council think that the health and welfare of the seniors, as well as other residents, on either side of Innisfil Beach Road matters? Just consider both of the intersections at the 20th Sideroad and Innisfil Beach Road … these are both accidents waiting to happen!
    Using Township funds to hire an outside contractor to remove the medians; just another example of this Council’s agenda. Why not utilize township staff to remove the medians; our workers are qualified, capable and being paid anyways.
    Can’t wait for the next election. Maybe the residents will realize what is happening.
    Just my opinion.

    • The intersections you mention at the 20th Sideroad are getting a makeover. (Electrical wires were being moved this summer & fall) The realigned 20th Sideroad will emerge adjacent to the Innisfil Community Church and continue north through a signalled intersection then turn east to cross the railway north of Innisfil Beach Rd. $100,000 would have paid for modest changes and several years of proper maintenance of the medians in my humble opinion.

      • Perfect!
        Then you will have “two” crossings of the railway line; the Innisfil Beach Road crossing and the 20th Sideroad, north of the 8th.
        I realize that bridges are very expensive, yet two overpasses were built on the 5th and the 6th lines of Innisfil, a number of years ago.
        Is it not interesting that these areas are amongst the hottest to be developed, yet The Town of Alcona, which was being developed many years ago, has never been considered for an overpass.
        Even Lefroy, which had the “original” railway station, many years ago, has been overlooked, at this time. The current proposal for the Go Station is at the 6th. Line. Why not at the Innisfil Beach Road, where the nucleus of business are located!
        Once again, I ask: Who is controlling Innisfil?
        Just my opinion.

      • Both intersections will have traffic lights for safety. Metrolinx recommended the 6th Line station location for better proximity to an urban centre.

      • Of course, this was a suggestion from Metrolinx.
        Don’t you wonder who lobbied for this location.
        Just my opinion.

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