For decades, motorists transiting through Queen’s University’s main campus have had to contend with individuals taking huge liberties with respect to the location of pedestrian crosswalks. Those who engage in the sometimes dangerous practice of jaywalking, especially in the vicinity of the campus’ busiest intersection at University and Union, subscribe to the “safety in numbers” line of reasoning. Although concerns from the community stemming from near misses and close calls have been largely ignored up until this point, the City and university took a big step forward last week with the grand opening of Kingston’s first scramble crossing.
Scramble crossings, otherwise referred to as pedestrian priority crossings or x-crossings, have been implemented in other Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Toronto and Quebec City with varying degrees of success. They operate much the same as a normal intersection, with one distinct feature that intermittently stops all vehicle traffic and permits pedestrians to cross in any direction they choose (video demo). Deanna Green, City of Kingston’s Manager of Traffic, outlines why the time was right for Kingston’s first scramble crossing at University and Union:
More than 2,000 pedestrians an hour cross at this intersection during the busiest times of the day, so prioritizing pedestrians at this intersection makes sense.
The creation of the city’s first pedestrian priority crossing is a definite win for Kingstonians who have been advocating for greater accessibility and placing the needs of pedestrians above those of motorists. Nevertheless, as evidenced by failed scramble crossings in other Canadian cities, we must also acknowledge that they are not always a good fit. For instance, Toronto was recently forced to remove one of their scrambles after a study found “modest positive benefits for pedestrians” and “negative impacts to vehicular traffic”, which resulted in a 50 percent increase in rear-end collisions. With such opposing results in mind, this week’s poll asks:
Will the scramble crossing at Union and University succeed/last?
- Yes, absolutely. (64%, 287 Votes)
- No. (28%, 124 Votes)
- Not sure. (8%, 34 Votes)
Total Voters: 445
Will the installation of a scramble crossing at Queen’s busiest intersection stem the flow of jaywalkers and remedy safety concerns, or is the problem too widespread to be fixed by a single scramble? Would you like to see the City of Kingston try this out at another busy intersection, and if so, where? Finally, do you think that the City’s first pedestrian priority crossing at Union and University is here to stay, or is it destined to be another failed example of why they aren’t always the right solution?
Photo credit to Queen’s Princial, Daniel Woolf.