November 13, 2018

Flag Waving Pedestrians at Crosswalks Encouraged by Halifax Council


From Halifax Nova Scotia,  The Globe and Mail reports on the “Crosswalk Safety Society” that are placing “high-visibility flags” on crosswalks where there are no crossing lights and no safety features. While staff at the Halifax Regional Municipality urged Council to get rid of these flags and create safer pedestrian crossings, council voted to continue with the flags being available at those crosswalks. And these flags are not inexpensive, with the Crosswalk Safety Society shelling out $250 to outfit each crosswalk with them.

Only 2 to 6 percent of pedestrians use these flags to wave at cars when they are crossing, and when a reporter watched an intersection for two hours, pedestrians did not use the flags at all.

The concept of intersection flags have been tested in Berkeley California and in Seattle and were dismissed as being ineffective and giving pedestrians a fake sense of confidence. It also puts the onus on the pedestrian for getting the driver’s attention and stopping a vehicle, something that should be the responsibility of the driver.  For small children, using flags is one more thing to take attention away from the important task of simply safely crossing the road.

Kudos to municipal staff in Halifax that conducted their own tests at two intersections, crossing each of them three hundred times.  “They found that drivers gave way 94 per cent of the time when flags were being carried and 89 per cent of the time at crossings where there were no flags. Driver compliance was lowest, at 86 per cent, when flags were present but not carried”.

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We are now into the danger months of November, December and January when most pedestrian fatalities occur. Most are at dusk, and most when pedestrians are legally crossing the street.  It is internationally recognized that pedestrians, the most vulnerable road users can benefit from improved road design including raised crosswalks, and shorter crossing distances. Lowering road speed, changing driver behaviour and ensuring good lighting also helps. But Price Tags is exploring  examples from both ends of the country that make streets safer for pedestrians-one bureaucratic, and one flag waving.

The first post is from Victoria British Columbia where elementary students at George Jay Elementary cross the street at Cook Street between Princess and Queens Avenues. Even though there are crosswalk markings and signage vehicles do not slow down at this intersection. The crossing guard (they have those in Victoria) stated  “A lot of close calls. Holding the kid back, and if I didn’t hold the kid back, he would be under the vehicle.”

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Aaron Licker posted these maps, showing where each party got their votes.  Click here for a closer look.


The map on the lower right showing the leading vote-getters (Sim, Kennedy and Sylvester) interested me the most.  It looks pretty close to the results I remember in the elections from the 1990s, with the NPA majorities coming not just from the west side but also the southeast quadrant.

In fact, if there was a dividing line between the right and left, it wasn’t Main Street (or Cambie or Ontario, depending on your definition.)

It was Kingsway.

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Now is the time for the new council to consider a ‘congestion charge’ when (if?) it licences Uber and other ride-hailing companies to operate on city streets.*

From the Seattle Times:

The two ride-hailing giants provided more than 91,000 rides on an average day in the second quarter of this year, according to ridership reports the companies filed with the city, recently made publicly available for the first time.

While that’s just a fraction of daily travel in the Seattle region, Uber and Lyft trips are heavily concentrated in the city’s densest neighborhoods, where nearly 40,000 rides a day start in ZIP codes covering downtown, Belltown, South Lake Union and Capitol Hill. They are almost certainly contributing to worsening congestion. …

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Time to  close the barn door on illicit mansion cropping in the City of Richmond. The  previous Council’s majority was bullish on developing the supposedly protected farmlands in their jurisdiction with Beverly Hills sizes of mansions, doubling to 11,000 the Provincially  allowable square footage to build these on protected agricultural lands.  Those councillors took advantage of  legislative loopholes that allowed municipalities discretion to create larger houses for “farmers”.

You can be sure that none of the McMansions created will ever return to farmer ownership as most are owned offshore in numbered companies  and have made their developers and owners tremendous land lifts in this loopholed  residential upzoning of supposedly protected Class 1 farmland.

Those councillors responsible for allowing McMansion cropping on the best farmland in Canada  should be named-Chak Au, Linda McPhail, Bill McNulty, Alexa Loo, Derek Dang  and Ken Johnston.  Mr. Johnston and Mr. Dang lost their seats in the October municipal elections when two new councillors that understood the importance of farmland to the future of the region were elected. Kelly Green and Michael Wolfe joined seasoned  Councillors Harold Steves and Carol Day  and returning Mayor Malcolm Brodie in doing the right thing, and capping the square footage of housing allowed on  Richmond agricultural lands.

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In this episode, editor-in-chief Gordon Price opens with an audio op-ed, on how Vancouver’s #CouncilSoWhite may not be as telling as we think. The main segment features Price Tags managing editor Colin Stein talking to Maria Dobrinskaya, BC Director of the Broadbent Institute, and Simka Marshall of the BC Federation of Students, on electoral reform in the province…and why Pro Rep is LIT.

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Yesterday’s post about the Vancouver Sun op-ed by Alex Boston scraped the surface of what could comprise an effective business case for Skytrain south of the Fraser, let alone what numbers may (or may not) have been used to justify LRT in the first place.

Did Translink miss some data? As I hinted in Part I, perhaps they simply missed communicating the most relevant, top-line numbers the public have an appetite — and capacity — to understand (no offence to all of us).

But let’s assume they made a whole raft of calculations, such as those that can be found in “Regional Transportation Investments: A Vision for Metro Vancouver (Appendices)“, pointed to me by  Boston’s colleague Keane Gruending from the Centre for Dialogue. The Centre’s own analysis on this file is reminiscent of their Moving in a Livable Region program around the time of the 2015 transit plebiscite, which attempted to hold our leaders accountable (and the politics in check), using a facts-first approach.

Boston’s deeper piece on the Renewable Cities website also reminded me that a lot of the debate on whether to pause Phase 2 and 3 of the Mayors Plan to once again deal with the Skytrain question often fails to deal with two important metrics tied to land use: jobs density, and CO2 emissions.

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This week, Alex Boston, the Executive Director of the Renewable Cities program at SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, wrote an op-ed in the Vancouver Sun on the proposed two big changes threatening to upend phases 2 and 3 of TransLink’s Mayors Plan.

Boston’s piece is a call, if slightly veiled, to Vancouver’s Kennedy Stewart and Surrey’s Doug McCallum to do what they were elected to do when it comes to regional matters — understand all the issues in a city which are regionally dependent or impactful, obtain support and confidence from your respective councils on big ideas, and work collaboratively with the other mayors and the TransLink Board to realize them.

But of course as you may know, it’s never that easy. And much like the housing crisis, there may not even be agreement on what the two problems are. 

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