With just over 6,000 pedestrian deaths a year [re 2017, NHTSA], the USA sadly has a very poor record in protecting people on foot.
Here at Advanced Drivers of North America, we have long campaigned for greater pedestrian safety, not only in relation to the construction of more mid-block crosswalks but also for the upgrade of the materials used to create crosswalks.
Williamsville was my home town for 12 years and its Main Street has always had some excessively long gaps between crosswalks, so it has always been in my mind when I’ve been thinking or talking about this subject.
It was therefore a great surprise and delight for me when I was in Williamsville over Christmas this year and found that the town has installed what I hope will be the first of several mid-block crosswalks.
Drivers needn’t be too concerned about an excessive numbers of stops. Most of the time, the signal lights are simply off. They only function after someone hits the press-to-cross button.
However, on a second visit to this site it was disappointing to find that the average wait-time, after pressing the button was a completely unnecessary 90 seconds — a duration for which many people simply would not wait, and which needs to be be reduced dramatically! [This paragraph added: June 2019]
Some crossings of this type are said to exist in Arizona, where they are referred to for whatever reason as HAWK crossings. Given the cross-border proximity of the Canadian province of Ontario, however, it is quite possible that someone in authority in Williamsville has adopted the idea from Ontario’s many such crossings. Either way, the catalyst doesn’t really matter — it’s the fact that one has been erected in Western New York. (Are there any more?)
Well done, Williamsville…. Please don’t let this one be the only one you build!
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