Let’s help make pedestrians safer on Spring Garden Road in Halifax

by John McKiggan

We have been trying to raise awareness to make Halifax a safer city for our pedestrians. See for example Mark Raftus’ recent article: Protecting Pedestrians with Innovative Ideas

Petition to Lower Speed Limit on Spring Garden

Spring_Garden_Road_at_Queen_StreetHalifax City Council recently approved a plan to improve streetscaping and lighting along Spring Garden Road to make it more pedestrian friendly. We believe that pedestrians should be able to safely walk the streets of Halifax. However, there were 208 pedestrian accidents last year (2015) and a disproportionate number happened on Spring Garden. There are three intersections on Spring Garden that have averaged 6 pedestrian-car collisions over the last few years. As business owners on this Road, we’ve launching a petition to reduce the speed to 30km per hour, ensuring a safer street for everyone.

No Consensus for Addressing the Problem

Halifax Regional Police statistics over the last 5 years show that more than 60% of pedestrian-car collisions happen in crosswalks. Keep in mind, the statutes are clear; pedestrians generally have the right of way within crosswalks. While the pedestrian does have an obligation to exercise care, vehicle operators must also exercise care and pay attention.

Even with the Crosswalk Safety Advisory Committee in Halifax, there has been no consensus regarding how best to address the concerns of residents, drivers and law enforcement.

Creating a Better Model for Safety

There have been various attempts to reduce the number of pedestrians struck at intersections. Some of the more innovative have included using pedestrian bumps and crosswalk lights such as those in use near Calgary and Vancouver. But we think we need to look to our neighbours in the United States for a possible solution to decrease pedestrian-related injuries and deaths due to a car collision.

“A small difference in speed can mean the difference between life and death”

New York streets are a hub of automobile & pedestrian traffic. Mayor Bill deBlasio recently enacted several changes in parts of NYC including a “slow zone”. This was a decrease in the speed limit in areas where there were significant numbers of pedestrian/auto accidents. As a result of many of these changes, in 2014, pedestrian accidents in NYC were at the lowest levels in history.

We all understand the slower a vehicle is traveling, the easier it is for them to stop, but the facts back this up. In fact, a study conducted by Transportation Alternatives showed that at 48 km, a car has a 20% chance of killing a pedestrian, but at 32 km, that drops to just 2% (after you convert American miles per hour to Canadian kilometers per hour).

Let’s try it on Spring Garden!

There is clear evidence that shows that higher speeds result in greater fatalities. Reducing the speed limit, which has already proven to be successful in NYC, is the most logical way to prevent pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

No blame! Just looking for solutions.

We don’t want to point fingers about who is to blame for pedestrian-car collisions. Distracted driving and distracted walking are both contributing factors. We recognize that accidents are going to continue to happen. But when accidents do happen we want to reduce the risk of serious injury or death. Changing the speed limit on Spring Garden from 50km to 30km will save lives and help reduce injuries. This must be considered by the legislature and by the Crosswalk Safety Advisory Committee as a viable method of reducing these incidents.

Join our petition now; the injury you prevent or the life you save could be yours or that of a loved one. Learn more about the data and evidence by visiting our website to sign our petition & join us in making Halifax a safer place for everyone.

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