A new high school has put the better part of a thousand young people on Topsail Road opposite a raft of fast food outlets and a major mall.
Young people will cross Topsail Road, a four–lane major thoroughfare in St. John’s. it is dangerous. Things will get more dangerous. City council is thinking about building a pedestrian walkway way over the street so pedestrians don’t have to cross at street level.
The pedway will be costly. Some people don’t like the cost and suggest that some other, far less expensive measures would do. Those people are wrong and here’s why.
The city installed traffic speed signs near schools. Anyone who has driven by the new high school will surely have seen cars and trucks speeding by at 15 or 209 kilometres per hour beyond the posted limit. As they do all over the city these days, drivers pay less and less heed to traffic lights. A light that has just turned red is often an excuse for two or three more cars to slip through.
We’ve already seen serious traffic accidents along Topsail Road over the past few years. There have been a number of serious accidents involving pedestrians including one death last winter. With heavy traffic and more pedestrians, it will be only a matter of time before we see more accidents and likely more deaths.
There certainly are cheaper ways to address the traffic problem on Topsail Road. The city has already taken the cheapest route of all: they’ve done nothing to improve public safety on Topsail Road.
There may be other things the city could do that are less costly than the pedway. There’s no guarantee those other measures will improve public safety in light of local traffic. The pedway, while expensive, is the safe solution.
In the early 1980s, students at Memorial University faced a similar safety issue. They had to cross the Prince Phillip Parkway way to get back and forth to classes and to get to parking on the north side of the campus. Traffic sped past at high speed and, as often than not, refused to stop for pedestrians on the crosswalk with the right of way.
Your humble e-scribbler faced that situation daily for too long. One lane of cars might stop, but only a fool ventured too far without waiting for the next lane to stop and then the next and the next until you could get safely to the other side.
Back then, a local open line show host insisted that pedways across the parkway were too costly and were unnecessary. After all, he joked, adults should be able to cross the streets safely. it took a tragic death, after a string of serious injuries before people stopped listening to that sort of ignorance.
Let’s hope we don’t have the same situation on Topsail Road.