Rail rules prevent crosswalk at Chinook jaywalking hotspot

Fines, safety no deterrent for Calgarians looking for quick crossing near Chinook LRT station

These gates do not stop many people from crossing 61 Avenue SE near Chinook CTrain station, although the city tried a recent ticketing blitz in hopes of encouraging people to walk to the nearest crosswalk at the far end of the block. BRODIE THOMAS / LIVEWIRE

The signs are there warning people not to jaywalk, but neither signs nor a ticketing blitz by the city seems to be stopping people from crossing the road illegally.

Anyone familiar with the Chinook Train Station has probably seen people jaywalking across 61 Avenue SE to get to, or away from, an approaching train.

Calgarian Matthew Bailey learned the hard way that you can’t just run across the street near the tracks, even though everyone else is doing it.

“There’s actually a sign by the track that says no jaywalking. I didn’t even notice,” he said.

He was dinged with a $25 jaywalking fine early in December, as the city set up a ticketing blitz in an attempt to stop people from walking across 61 Avenue.

Bailey’s wife had dropped him off on the north Side of 61 Avenue on her way to work, and he ran across the road to catch the train, rather than walking a block to 1A Street, to the nearest crosswalk.

He said there were about eight CPS officers, plus peace officers, handing out tickets.

‘No jaywalking’ signs warn people in both directions not to cross 61 Avenue SE. BRODIE THOMAS / LIVEWIRE

“I think they made a killing that day,” he said.

While Bailey fully admits that he broke the law by jaywalking, he couldn’t help but wonder why the city doesn’t just do something to accommodate the clear desire of so many people to cross closer to the station.

“I just thought it was a kind of funny to put a big ‘no jaywalking’ sign when you could just have a crosswalk,” he said.

But Pat Grisak, senior leader in the traffic division of roads with the City of Calgary, said putting a crosswalk near the train station is basically impossible because of the proximity to the tracks.

“The difficulty there is, with the heavy rail crossing, we have to be able to clear any vehicles that are stopped on the track as the train approaches,” said Grisak.

“If there’s a crosswalk there and pedestrians crossing randomly, there’s no way that we can do that.”

He said a pedestrian overpass has never been studied for that section of road. He said the cost of putting an overpass in would be one barrier.

“The other thing is, if the overpass is installed and there’s an at-grade crossing still available, frequently pedestrians will continue to use the at-grade crossing because there’s no requirement to climb stairs or ramps and come back down.”

Bailey said after getting the ticket, he has thought twice about jaywalking at the same area, but it hasn’t been the best deterrent.

“It was my first day back and I thought, I probably shouldn’t jaywalk because I don’t want to get a ticket,” said Bailey.

“Then the train came and I saw the hoard of people running across so I just did it again.”

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