Safety advocate suggests the use of rumble strips at crosswalks

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There seems to be a never-ending list of pedestrian deaths in the Halifax area.

"A fatality on Quinpool a month or so ago, one on Gottingen last year," says Norm Collins of the Nova Scotia Crosswalk Safety Society.

Collins has been advocating for crosswalk and road safety since at least 2014 when he tried to convince the council to install reflective tape on crosswalk posts.

Most recently, he's pitching the use of rumble strips in advance of crosswalks to alert drivers of their presence.

"It's not a slowing down issue, it's more a creating awareness that something is ahead of that you as a driver need to be particularly attentive to," he explains. "I'm not the engineer but let's say 50, 75, 100 meters before a crosswalk."

The advocate says that rumble strips are most commonly used along provincial 100-series highways.

"If anyone has driven the Cobequid Pass before you get to the toll booth, as you approach the toll booth there are rumble strips there," he tells NEWS 95.7's The Rick Howe Show.

But Collins says that doesn't mean rumble strips can't be used along more residential streets.

"Safety issues are not limited to residential streets," he adds.

One of the most recent speed-calming initiatives is new speed humps on Allan Street. But Collins says these initiatives are needed on larger thoroughfares like Connaught, Quinpool, and others.

"Unfortunately the traffic-calming policy that council has passed limits the traffic-calming to residential areas," he says. "Streets that are defined as local streets or minor collector streets. They cannot be multi-lane roads."

Collins understands this regulation may be so emergency services like ambulances and fire trucks aren't slowed down. That's where rumble strips come in, he says.

"If there's a choice to be made between convenience for a driver and safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers, safety has to take precedence," says Collins. "And this seems to us to be a very small price to pay for drivers to improve the safety of all the other people who use our roads."

But Collins says he's already heard back from municipal staff, including senior traffic manager Taso Koutroulakis, who aren't keen on the new rumble strips idea.

"Just because they've only been used on highways previously, there's nothing in the regulations I'm aware of that precludes them being used on city streets," he adds.

Collins says the city needs to be more receptive to new, innovative ideas. Back in 2014, he says that the staff said the same thing about his idea for reflective tape on crosswalk posts.

"It's not done to put reflective tape on posts, that was the response back in 2014 when that was recommended by the crosswalk safety advisory committee," he says.

But when Calgary started using red tape, Collins says Halifax followed behind a few years later.

The advocate says this is a chance for the city to be progressive and proactive in finding new ways to mitigate risk at crosswalks.

"We thought it was great in 2014, we don't understand why it took five years and somebody else to do it, as opposed to Halifax taking some progressive and proactive actions," says Collins.

Collins is still hopeful that he can negotiate with the city about installing up to six rumble strips to test the idea.

"At least as a pilot project, why not?"

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