City of Saint John project looks at beefing up number of crosswalks

·2 min read
The City of Saint John is using federal money to develop a framework for identifying new locations for pedestrian crosswalks. (Lane Harrison/CBC News - image credit)
The City of Saint John is using federal money to develop a framework for identifying new locations for pedestrian crosswalks. (Lane Harrison/CBC News - image credit)

The City of Saint John wants to find out where new crosswalks are needed to improve safety for pedestrians in the community.

The project will use $50,000 from the federal  Active Transportation Fund to identify locations where new crosswalks are warranted, one of three projects the city is embarking on with funds from Infrastructure Canada. The other two will focus on sidewalk infilling and a road safety education plan.

Tim O'Reilly, the city's director of public works and transportation, said the crosswalk study will not only identify new locations, it will also help the city decide on priorities.

"We do get a lot of requests for sidewalks and new crosswalks in the city. And we don't have a formalized way of prioritizing those requests," he said.

Joseph Tunney/CBC
Joseph Tunney/CBC

O'Reilly said he knows the public can sometimes be frustrated when they submit a crosswalk request, because it's difficult for the city to tell them how their request fits into the prioritization of other new crosswalk projects.

"So [when] we do end up getting those requests from the public [in future], we can much more thoroughly advise them how their request fits into that overall system," he said.

He expects the project to conclude in fall 2023.

Project may use cell phone data

To determine which areas should be a priority for new pedestrian infrastructure, the project will seek out areas "where there is a real demand for pedestrian uses," O'Reilly said.

One focus of the project will be on identifying new crosswalk locations that will help users of public transit in the city.

"In order to use transit, you're gonna have to be a pedestrian, either first or after your trip. So that'll be a big factor in the process," he said.

Lane Harrison/CBC
Lane Harrison/CBC

Other high use areas could be schools or shopping malls, he said.

But the city will also use different forms of available data to find high-demand locations for pedestrians.

One of those forms could be cell phone location data.

The city doesn't collect this itself, O'Reilly said, but it is able to receive data from third-party companies who offer the information as a service.

O'Reilly said the data comes to the city without any identifying information.

Without being able to tell whose cell phone it is, the city can see where a device travelled within Saint John.

"It's just another one of those input data sources to be able to, again, not track the individual, absolutely not, but to be able to identify where people are commuting within our community," he said.