Well it appears the death of Harold Hill in 2009 has had limited impact on city administrators and members of council.
Hill, 82, was struck by a vehicle while using a crosswalk on Elm Street in front of St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital on Sept. 24, 2009. He later died in hospital.
Turns out the crossing was not legal, according to city police, and the city has 15 similar uncontrolled crossings in existence today, where pedestrians are likely under the mistaken impression they can safely enter the crosswalk to navigate the roadway.
Eight of those crossings are located along Talbot Street.
In reality, pedestrians do not have the right of way and must yield to motorists at these so-called courtesy crossings.
A headline in the Times-Journal at the time of Hill’s death alerted pedestrians to the danger of these crossings: “Two crosswalk lines . . . ‘mean nothing’.”
Hill’s death prompted former mayor Janet Golding to appear before council of the day to demand action on these now-deadly crossings.
“Evidently, pedestrians have for many years felt some security and legal protection by crossing at these painted line crosswalk locations,” wrote Golding in the preamble to her deputation to council.
“And, as it appears, falsely so,” she continued.
“Clearly, creating a false sense of security for a pedestrian by painting two lines on the pavement and placing a sign denoting a pedestrian crosswalk is very dangerous when vehicular traffic has no obligation to give right-of-way to the pedestrian,” Golding observed.
She correctly advised the crosswalk was not just for the convenience of those attending to the hospital, but was also used by pedestrians wishing to access the doctor’s offices on the north side of Elm Street.
“Immediately correcting the status of the crosswalk in front of our hospital by either installing pedestrian-operated traffic lights similar to the ones installed in front of Pinafore Park, or a legally-designated crossover lighted system used in many other municipalities is the right thing to do before another tragedy occurs,” she stressed.
Golding concluded by urging our city leaders “to be proactive and immediately correct this very dangerous situation.”
Which the city did by installing traffic signals at the corner of Elm and Meehan streets.
However, in the ensuing three years no attempt was made to rectify this dangerous situation at any of the other courtesy crossings.
That is until Monday’s council meeting, where a pilot project was rolled out whereby city staff will install new signs on Talbot Street at all but one of the thoroughfare’s courtesy crossings. The signs will alert motorists they’re approaching a courtesy crossing and separate signs will caution pedestrians that vehicles are not required to stop for them.
If anything, this signage will only add to the visual clutter that confronts and confuses motorists and pedestrians alike along Talbot Street.
This makeshift solution only reinforces the dangerously obvious: two crosswalk lines mean nothing.
The pilot project announcement prompted Downtown Development Board chairman Dan Muscat to observe, “We should be trying to make the downtown a safe, friendly place for pedestrians. They’re taking the right approach, maybe, to let pedestrians know that they’re using a crosswalk at their own risk, but I think we really needed to take that to the next step and create these crosswalks to be pedestrian friendly and make them legal (controlled) crosswalks.”
Anything less and the death of Harold Hill truly has gone for naught.
HAVE YOUR SAY
On the above matter, hopperRox posted the following on the Times-Journal website, “I guess a sign stating: If you get hit by a car you can’t sue us with this sign here!, would be too long and to the point?”
WILL THE CITY TAKE THE BAIT?
Laurence Grant, president of the St. Thomas-Elgin branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, is encouraging the city to develop and adopt a bylaw for heritage property tax relief in order to promote heritage conservation.
He is presenting his case in a letter to council contained in Monday’s agenda.
Grant points out, municipal participation in such an offering “has encouraged the revitalization of main streets and older neighbourhoods, which in turn attract residents, businesses and tourists.”
Will this be the new way forward or are we still handcuffed by the inertia that pervaded city hall and contributed to the demolition by neglect of Alma College?
POINT TO PONDER
Interesting observation from Const. Brian Kempster in his report to be presented to council on Monday.
He reminds January is Crimestoppers month and it also marks the 20th anniversary of the St. Thomas program.
Kempster notes in 2012, the Crimestoppers program resulted in 19 arrests, 15 cases solved, $5 million in property recovered and $183,000 in drugs seized as a result of tips received.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“If you need signs to tell the people to watch out for the cars, and signs to tell the drivers to watch out for the people, perhaps it’s time to put a sign at the edge of town warning you to “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!”
Reader Enola G posts his opinion on the Times-Journal website relating to the city’s pilot project to improve safety at courtesy crosswalks along Talbot Street.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope