ANTIGONISH, N.S. - It’s important message that needs to be highlighted every now and again … and now is one of those times. Crosswalk safety is a partnership between the driver and pedestrian.
“That is what we’re trying to promote; obviously drivers have a big responsibility but pedestrians also bear some of the responsibility to ensure it’s safe to go across,” Antigonish RCMP community policing officer Cst. Morgan MacPherson said, in conversation with the Casket Feb. 19.
MacPherson said the RCMP have received a few calls about close calls on Antigonish streets recently, and pointed out one busy crosswalk in particular; on Main Street by the Acadia Street intersection.
“I guess that one is really bad in the evenings,” MacPherson said of the crosswalk which is used often, due to its proximity to some popular downtown businesses.
“Drivers are not slowing down at all and, having said that, I’ve driven through there myself and, a lot of times, people just walk right out without a whole lot of looking to make sure everything is safe,” he said, again emphasizing the onus is on both driver and pedestrian. “At all crosswalks but one like that in particular, where there are no lights.
“So it really is up to them to make eye-contact with the driver; that’s what we try to stress to pedestrians, and drivers have to be more alert around that crosswalk as well. We’re trying to get that message out to both ends of the public.”
At Antigonish Town Council’s regular monthly public meeting Feb. 19, councillor Andrew Murray brought up the subject that a lot of the crosswalk paint has disappeared from town streets already.
Council and staff talked about weather and having to use a different style of paint playing a role in the diminished visibility of the markings and it was noted the safety flags, successfully used at other crosswalks around town, will be incorporated at the Main Street crosswalk near Acadia Street.
“We would like to get more lighting there too,” Mayor Laurie Boucher said to reporters after the meeting.
She noted the plan would be to have the crosswalks repainted before St. F.X. spring convocation.
“So May, but it’s weather dependent,” she said, then commenting more generally on crosswalk safety.
“Especially where it is still dark early these days, you have to make sure, as a driver, you are aware of where the crosswalks are, slow down and make sure no one is crossing,” she said.
“As a pedestrian, I know what I always do is to make eye-contact with the driver and make sure they see me; we shouldn’t walk across the road without making sure the driver sees us.”
Noting the less visible paint for some crosswalks in town, MacPherson said anticipation of crosswalks should be on drivers’ minds.
“I always tell people, just assume there is a crosswalk at an intersection. Even if it’s not painted in, just assume there is one and that way you’re already, kind of, preparing for it. If someone does walk out, you’ll be that further ahead; it’s about more awareness.”
MacPherson said the RCMP traffic unit has been tasked with monitoring crosswalks.
“If that alone gets people to pay a little bit more attention, than that’s good too,” he said.
“Our guys will be out there enforcing it and the fines are pretty hefty, up to $700 for drivers who fail to yield at a crosswalk, so it can be pricey,” he said, adding it can cost someone points off of their licence as well.