The City of New Westminster is using new “pedestrian clearance practices” in all future signal timing adjustments.
New Westminster city council recently received a staff report about pedestrian signal timing, which noted the general practice has been to use pedestrian walking speed of 1.2 metres per second. The report states a review of current North American best practice indicates a walking speed of 1.0 metres per second is now preferred, and suggested the walking speed should be reduced to 0.9 metres per second or slower near destinations likely to attract slower-moving pedestrians such as children, seniors and people with disabilities.
According to the report, the review also determined that pedestrian clearance intervals should be completely contained within the green phase and should not rely on the subsequent amber or all-red phase for pedestrians to complete their crossing.
“This will improve pedestrian comfort by reducing the likelihood that pedestrians will be in the intersection during the amber or all-red phase. It will also reduce the probability of conflicts between pedestrians and left-turning vehicles during the amber or all-red phases,” said the report.” Engineering staff have accepted these two pedestrian clearance practices as the preferred methodology and will use them in all future signal timing adjustments.”
The report noted 11 of 13 pedestrian signals in New Westminster have already been modified with longer pedestrian clearance intervals. Royal Avenue at Seventh Street and Royal Avenue at Third Street are the two exceptions because these signals must be coordinated with other signals on Royal Avenue and more analysis is needed before this can be done.
“The provision of updated pedestrian clearance intervals at pedestrian traffic signals is a first step in providing greater safety and comfort for pedestrians,” said the report. “The development of a pedestrian-first traffic signal policy would further solidify the city’s objectives to prioritize pedestrians, and is consistent with the pedestrian-specific objectives of the master transportation plan. Proactively improving the pedestrian experience and encouraging individuals of all abilities to choose walking as a mode of transportation will demonstrate the city’s leadership in prioritizing pedestrians in our community.”
In May, the New Westminster and Burnaby Walkers Caucus wrote to the city to voice concern about the difficulties that seniors, children and pedestrians who use mobility aids sometimes experience when crossing streets in New Westminster.