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Don’t walk: Residents near Edmonton Trail concerned with lack of crosswalk signals

Residents who live in Renfrew and Crescent Heights say crossing Edmonton Trail is becoming dangerous for pedestrians, but they’re having no luck getting crosswalk upgrades.

David Barrett, who serves on the Renfrew Community Association but was speaking as a private citizen, said the problem with the crosswalks or lack thereof has been ongoing for several years.

“The challenge now is that they’re potentially ill placed as well as ill identified,” he said.

The section of Edmonton Trail that runs north and south between Memorial Drive and 16 Avenue NE has four lanes in most places. It has become a main thoroughfare for cars entering and exiting the downtown core.

Barrett said he’s had estimates from the city that there are 22,000 vehicles a day on that section of Edmonton Trail, but the crosswalks are very basic.

“There’s just single lines – no zebra crossings (ladder crossings) or anything like that,” said Barrett.

Many of the intersections along Edmonton Trail south of 16 Avenue have no sidewalk markings. (Google Maps)

“Because it’s an artery, there’s a lot of people going faster than they should and not realizing there’s crosswalks until it’s unsafe for them to stop.”

With school starting up in September, he’s worried about students who will have to cross at some of the busiest times.

“The high school students in Renfrew go across to Crescent Heights for high school. There’s a lot of pedestrian movement east west there, but there’s a lack of connecting infrastructure.”

Barrett said Edmonton Trail is the dividing line between Wards 7 and 9, which means he’s been talking to two councillors about the matter.

Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra told LiveWire that Edmonton Trail is in line for upgrades under the city’s Mainstreets program, but it didn’t make the cut for the first round.

There’s new funding going into turning these streets from what they are right now into pedestrian corridors, and there’s fierce competition between 24 main streets to see who goes first.

He said Edmonton Trail is really a “car sewer” that catches and funnels commuter traffic, but an area that has also held onto a lively business community

He encouraged residents and business owners in the area to work on getting some real advocacy for upgrades.

“I encourage people to take their advocacy off the occasional Twitter flare-up, and turn it into some real bricks and mortar advocacy with letters and official positions from the community associations,” said Carra.

Residents are at least looking for clearly painted ladder-style crossings across the busy four-lane road.

Stephen Kay, senior special projects engineer with the traffic division, said Edmonton trail is on the list for a traffic count. The count will help determine if greater visibility crosswalks are needed in the area.

Crossing styles range from two parallel painted lines to ladder crossings to pedestrian corridors (amber flashing lights) and full traffic signals.

Intersections receive a score based on the counts and other factors which help the city objectively determine if a crossing is properly engineered for the amount of people using it.

But he added that pedestrians don’t need to limit themselves to marked crosswalks.

“Pedestrians are legally able to cross at intersections where there are painted crosswalks and where there aren’t painted crosswalks,” said Kay.