Comment 91229

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted August 22, 2013 at 13:29:55

The weirdest thing about pedestrian crossings is how municipalities in Ontario themselves (not just Hamilton) seem intent on publicly misinterpreting the Highway Traffic Act.

Here is what Kingston says, which is obviously completely false and seems to be directly inspired by Hart Solomon's Hamilton (mis)interpretation, starting in about 2000:

"Pedestrian laws in Ontario are unique with respect to other provinces in Canada. The Highway Traffic Act of Ontario does not require motorists to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks marked only with white lines and/or signage. The Act takes precedence over any potential local by-law. The City does not install these types of "crosswalks" as they could create potential safety issues since pedestrians might mistakenly believe that they have the right-of-way over vehicles.

The City of Kingston is working with other municipalities and the Ontario Traffic Council to propose "pedestrian friendly" changes to the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario. The revisions would provide right-of-way to pedestrians over vehicles at crosswalks designated with pedestrian signage and white "ladder" pavement markings. The Ministry of Transportation Ontario is reviewing the proposed revisions but approval of the changes is uncertain at this time.'

What is going on here? Are municipal traffic engineers deliberately trying to mislead residents about the contents of the Highway Traffic Act, or have they just assumed that because motorists don't stop there must be something in the Highway Traffic Act to sanction this behaviour?

It is one thing to say that a certain section of the Act has not been enforced for years, and so it is unwise to install pedestrians to cross at unsignalized intersections. It is quite another to deliberately mislead the public about what the Act says on the issue!

In a response another commentator's recent experience in Vancouver, I was born and raised there (although I moved away in 1990). I recently spent a week back in Vancouver, and decided to see if driver behaviour has changed with respect to pedestrians.

In general, it is still night and day compared to Ontario. Almost all motorists will stop for pedestrians crossing at any intersection as soon as they step off the curb on busy streets such as Denman, South Granville and Marine Drive in West Van. You may encounter the occasional dangerous, rude or distracted driver, but that is definitely the exception.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2013-08-22 13:31:35

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