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A Vancouver effort to make pedestrians safer is thinking outside the crosswalk box

May 28th, 2012 · 118 Comments

Chicago is setting a new goal of trying to achieve zero traffic fatalities, the most ambitious of any North American city. But, as this story notes, that’s easier said than done.

Back here in Vancouver, no one has set a zero-fatality target but the city’s engineering department, with the help of UBC’s pioneering traffic-management research, is trying to figure out the most effective ways of preventing pedestrian-car collisions. As it turns out, some things you would think might work don’t (flashing yellows, speed-indicator boards, signs advertising pedestrian crossings), while others, no more expensive, do.

My story in the Globe takes a look at some of the science behind the city’s recent report on improving pedestrian safety.

Tangentially, the conflict-analysis technique that UBC prof Tarek Sayed refers to in this story was used to analyze why the number of car-bike crashes rose at Pacific and Burrard after the separated bike lanes were introduced. Turned out that it was because cars, in spite of signs telling them they couldn’t, were still trying to turn right from Burrard onto Pacific. The city is making an adjustment to that corner to make it much harder for a car to turn right, which should bring the crash rate back down.

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