Council approves improvements to crosswalks after study identifies safety concerns

Courtesy of the City of Prince Albert

A safety study performed by the Department of Public Works has determined that nine crosswalks around the City of Prince Albert need improvement in order to operate at a standard level of safety. 

Traffic and Transportation Manager for the City of Prince Albert, Evan Hastings, oversaw the six month long study from November 2021 to April 2022, and used it to create a plan to increase safety standards at crosswalks that needed upgrading. He presented his findings to City Council during Monday’s Executive Committee meeting. 

Hastings recommended a few treatments to improve pedestrian and motorist safety, enhance active transportation systems, and reduce traffic congestion at these confirmed sensitive crossing locations.

That list includes the installation of Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) at four out of nine confirmed crosswalks that need improvements: Sixth Avenue East and 9th Street, 15th Avenue East near Helme Crescent, 10th Avenue West and 25th Street, and 3rd Avenue East and 28th Street. Those improvements will be covered by SGI Traffic Safety Grant Funding for a total cost of $55,136.89.

RRFBs are widely used as a pedestrian crosswalk treatment across North America, including the Cities of Saskatoon and Warman, and the Town of Rosthern. Hastings said the treatment is fully-solar powered, reliable in cold climates, and there are no recurring electrical costs. Studies have shown an increase in driver yield rates of up to 96% and pedestrian-vehicle crash reduction of up to 47%.

The beacons allow pedestrians to cross the road more efficiently as they do not have to wait for vehicles to decide to stop and yield the right of way.

“My study confirmed that the [RRFB] treatment is a minimum safety requirement at multiple locations in Prince Albert,” Hastings said.

Several other treatments including the installation of Overhead Flashing Beacons. Hastings also suggested removing pedestrian half-signals at some locations. The average pedestrian half-signal uses approximately $350 in electricity each year and the removal of the 5 proposed pedestrian half-signals would save approximately $1,750 in electricity per year.

A few concerned City Council members had suggestions for crosswalks in their own wards, including the installation of instant flashing yellow lights to the crossings at 6th Avenue West and 22nd Street and 16th Avenue West and 15th Street instead of all together removing the pedestrian half-signals.

The recommendation was approved after the suggested amendments. Improvements to the identified crosswalks will begin immediately.