On my way home from the region in my car today, I had to stop on Albert St. for several university students standing in the middle of the road. The traffic was stopped while a line of summer camp kids crossed the road and headed to the park. The university students were their counsellors.
Presently in Ontario, those councillors were disobeying the Highway Traffic Act because pedestrians do not have the right of way like they do in many other jurisdictions.
But Albert St. is so busy, they would not have been able to get the kids safely across the street or across the street at all if they had to wait for traffic to clear. They could, of course, gone to the pedestrian light a little further up the road.
This was an interesting moment for me as I had just finished a conversation with one of our planners who is on a provincial committee looking into making our province safer for pedestrians. Right now pedestrains have the right of way at roundabouts only and cars must stop for them.
The provincial committee is suggesting changing the traffic act so pedestrians always have the right-of-way. So the campers would be legal.
I wonder what it would do to jaywalking by-laws? Make them redundant, I guess. In Waterloo, I can cross the street in downtown Waterloo in mid-block without getting a ticket but in Kitchener, I would get a ticket.
Studies of pedestrians note that they tend to move in a diagonal pattern from store to store if say they are in a mall or on a quiet street. Does the fact that I can cross mid-block in Waterloo while dodging traffic (though many politely stop) create another reason why Waterloo’s Uptown is healthier than downtown Kitchener?