Mayor Greg Dionne said council is not considering implementing a bylaw for jaywalking since it only really affects Central Avenue.
“It’s more present there because people are going from store to store, so instead of going to the corners, they run across the street,” he said. “I think people put down their guard when they’re driving on Central Avenue because it’s one-way traffic, so they’re looking more straight ahead than side to side.”
Currently, it is legal to cross at the middle of a block to the other side of the street where no crosswalks are present. It is illegal to cross at an intersection when a no-walk signal is present.
While Dionne doesn’t consider jaywalking to be a major concern, he said there is an issue with vehicles not yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks and lighted intersections.
“We want to put more pedestrian lights up (and) we’re better marking the crosswalks. We’ve added Xs to them,” he said. “We have warning signs and stuff like that that we’re looking at. We’re also going to in the New Year look at traffic-calming devices, which could be speed bumps or signals that stick out a little further to make the cars slow down at where pedestrians are.”
One of the traffic-calming methods that the city will be considering in the New Year is installing traffic notices that read 30 km/h right in the middle of the street in school zones.
“Then people can’t say they can’t see them where now we have them on the sides on poles,” Dionne said.
Sgt. Kelly McLean, with the Prince Albert Police Service, reflected Dionne’s sentiment toward jaywalking.
“It has been a problem in the past, but I don’t think it’s significant enough to consider enforcement action at this time,” he said. “I think that we’re going to consider that again when we look at the bylaws for 2013.”
According to statistics obtained from Saskatchewan Government Insurance, there were 395 vehicle-pedestrian collisions across the province last year, with 356 resulting in pedestrians being injured and 20 pedestrians being killed. Thirty per cent of the total pedestrians hit had been jaywalking. However, that percentage has been as low as six in the last three years.
While local statistics regarding vehicle-pedestrian collisions in Prince Albert could not be obtained by press time, director of public affairs at Parkland Ambulance Lyle Karasiuk said, on the whole, the number of vehicle-pedestrian collisions this year does not exceed last year’s.
However, Karasiuk did note that he believes jaywalking is quite prevalent in the community, urging people to be cautious.
“Probably, a lot of people are guilty of it just by association,” he said. “This time of year is actually very bad for jaywalking, because, if you’ve driven downtown, the streets are icy, they’re rutted and they’ve got snow on them.
“You, as a pedestrian, trying to get across that with your shoes or boots, are not moving very fast,” he continued. “The traffic doesn’t have the ability to stop as quickly as it normally would because of bad surface areas, and now we have a problem. The pedestrian, who probably should have used the crosswalk to begin with, has chosen to cross in the middle of the block and now is opening him or herself up to that situation.”
By the same token, Karasiuk said motorists need to be more vigilant and keep track of their speed.
“Pedestrians have the right of way at a crosswalk,” he said. “If it’s unmarked and they’re showing intent, the pedestrian has the right of way.”
-With files from Matt Gardner