City slowly phasing in countdown crosswalks

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In an effort to make pedestrians more visible and reinforce their right of way, the City of Yellowknife has been phasing in crosswalks with countdown timers.

Brett McGarry / NNSL photo A relatively new countdown pedestrian crosswalk at Gitzel Rd. And Franklin Ave. Is one of three in the city. They have slowly been phased into the city since 2017.
A countdown crosswalk at Gitzel Road and Franklin Avenue. The city has been slowly phasing them in since 2017.
Brett McGarry/NNSL photo

The pedestrian signals tell walkers how much time they have left to clear crosswalks before the traffic light changes.

Chris Greencorn, director of public works, says that the new lights are being phased in as the old crosswalk lights fail.

“These pedestrian lights are common in other municipalities,” stated Greencorn in an email. “They provide both pedestrians and motorists with clear indication on when the light phases.”

The first one was installed in 2017 at the intersection of Kam Lake Road and Finlayson Drive, he stated.

Since then the city has installed countdown crosswalks at Woolgar Avenue and Kam Lake Road and at Gitzel Street and Franklin Avenue.

John Soderberg, president of the Yellowknife Seniors’ Society, stated countdown crosswalks keep the elderly from getting hurt. Once a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, the countdown helps them clear the intersection before the light changes, she said.

“Even the ones without obvious mobility issues can cross with a greater degree of confidence and safety knowing they have the time to make it,” stated Soderberg. “The problem will still exist of drivers not giving way to pedestrians but that doesn’t negate the best case scenario for countdown lights.”

The cost of installing each new countdown light is $280.

Steve Lake, a former resident who was born and raised in Yellowknife but who now resides in Edmonton, has taken a keen interest in the issue.

Lake has been championing the issue for his former hometown by contacting media and  politicians and urging them to install more countdown crosswalks.

“Edmonton has these countdown crosswalk timers along most of there intersections and I thought it would be a really good idea for Yellowknife to replace their aging traffic lights with a more enhanced safety system,” stated Lake.

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