Greater public awareness, fines suggested for crosswalk safety

The Transportation Standing Committee gathered today to review crosswalk safety, accessibility in taxis and limos, and dog parks.

Police may start handing out more fines for crosswalk-related crimes. (Photo: Ben DuPlessis)

Recommendations for improving crosswalk safety that include continuing an awareness campaign and putting police at some crosswalks will be voted on by Halifax Regional Council.

The Transportation Standing Committee voted to recommend regional council follow the changes laid out in the the Crosswalk Safety Work Plan.

“The committee focused on things that are doable very quickly and that will have an almost immediate impact,” said Coun. Barry Dalrymple (Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit).

The plan called for more research into pedestrian traffic accidents, an area the Crosswalk Safety Advisory Committee found to be lacking in data.

The Halifax Regional Police would devote a crime analyst to tracking the details of people being hit by cars, in crosswalks or otherwise. Ahsan Habib and DalTRAC, a transportation research team from Dalhousie University, would also be involved in gathering data.

The plan listed the cost, $250, to gather the police, DalTRAC and other potential research partners in a room for a catered meeting, but did not list the cost of the research the meeting would hope to produce.

Some of the other actions proposed in the plan:

  • Another ad campaign, like last year’s Distractions Kill, at a cost of $40,000
  • Creating an annual crosswalk safety awareness day, brought to schools but ideally designed to target adults, at a cost of between $5,000 and $10,000
  • Putting police officers near certain crosswalks at busy times in an effort to ticket more people illegally crossing or driving
  • Writing a letter to the provincial government recommending a harsher Motor Vehicle Act. Drivers could be made to re-write driving exams, pedestrians to take safety courses
  • Pruning plants near crosswalks blocking pedestrians from sight
  • Various new signs, reflective taping and neon-colouring near crosswalks, making them easier to see

Also mentioned in the plan, the proposal for $155,000 zebra stripe crosswalks will go before the Halifax Regional Council on Feb. 11.

Accessible taxis and limos

The committee also passed a motion for a staff report looking into a proposal by Dave Buffett, president of the Halifax Taxi Drivers Association. Buffet called for all new taxis licensed in HRM to be vans accessible by ramp and capable of holding two wheelchairs.

People with disabilities aren’t being serviced, said Buffett. He also recommended new limousine licences be reserved for wheelchair-accessible luxury vehicles.

“There are no accessible limousines in the HRM,” Buffett told the committee.

“A person with a disability cannot travel by limousine. It’s simply not an option. We find that unacceptable.”

Service dog parks moving

The committee moved to put together a report on relocating the exercise park for service dogs now on the end of Rainnie Drive near Cogswell Street. The upcoming redesign of the North Park Street intersection at Cogswell Street will crowd the park, where people bring their service dogs for exercise.

Coun. Russell Walker (Halifax-Bedford Basin-West) suggested moving the park to the Mainland Common while Coun. David Hendsbee (Preston-Chezzetcook-Eastern Shore) suggested the lawn beside the Canada Post office on Almon Street, across the street from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

Coun. Jennifer Watts (Peninsula North) told the rest of the committee they should consider designating multiple dog parks.