Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pedestrian countdown timers increase safety at City intersections

Pedestrian crossing countdown timers are one of the many innovative ways The City is using technology to increase traffic and pedestrian safety in our transportation network.

The City began permanently installing these types of signals at various intersections around Calgary in 2005, after a pilot study conducted the year before. Currently, pedestrian crossing countdown timers exist at 184 of the 1,000 or so signalized intersections throughout Calgary with most of those located primarily in the downtown core.

Pedestrian crossing countdown timers are installed at intersections that meet criteria set out by the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC), a world leader in creating technical expertise and transportation knowledge. The City of Calgary is held accountable to TAC requirements. Now an industry standard, TAC agrees the signals have shown to be an effective way to improve traffic safety across the country.

According to TAC Guidelines for Optimal Use of Pedestrian Countdown Signals, there were five studies conducted in cities in Canada and the United States between 1999 and 2003. “The five studies showed that there were no noticeable changes in vehicle speed, acceleration, signal violation or other vehicle behaviour after pedestrian countdown crossing timers were installed.” (2005) TAC also reported that this finding is consistent in all five cities.

City engineers measure and monitor traffic and signalization at various intersections around Calgary to see how safety can be improved and what type of technology would be the right fit. In the case of countdown timers, intersection characteristics such as high pedestrian and vehicle traffic volumes, the width of an intersection and a high volume of pedestrians who are children, seniors or individuals with mobility issues are considered before any installation decisions are made.

Calgary continues to hold one of the lowest collision casualty rates among Canadian cities, and since 2002 the collision rate on Calgary roadways has decreased 15 per cent. The City continues to conduct traffic safety studies to ensure that we are at the forefront of providing all Calgarians with a safe transportation network.

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