There is only one, viable option for the Elm Street crosswalk between the downtown bus depot and the Rainbow Centre mall: get rid of it.
Northern Life was surprised at the public outcry to the story we ran two weeks ago on the pedestrian crossing.
When more than 100 people take the time to put their two cents into to the argument, it is a good indication of the general feeling of the public at large, especially when those comments are not from the usual gaggle of bloggers.
Many of the comments were reasoned, well defended and on point. And the weight of opinion? Squarely on the side of getting rid of the crosswalk as a danger to both driver and pedestrian.
Despite the city’s insistence that leaving the crosswalk in place is the safest choice, countless close calls between drivers and pedestrians say otherwise. Granted, actual collisions have been few and far between, but isn’t that really a horseshoes and hand grenades kind of argument? Those close calls indicate an accident — or worse, a fatality — waiting to happen.
It was just such a collision, in fact, that precipitated the story.
Dave Shelsted, Greater Sudbury’s roads director, said the fear on the part of the city is that if the crosswalk is removed, people will continue to cross there anyway without the relative safety of the crosswalk (given the number of close calls, that safety is very “relative.”) That is likely the case, but as an argument to leave the crosswalk in place, it falls flat.
Once removed, it becomes clearly illegal to cross at the location, making the situation a much simpler matter of enforcement. Thanks to Ontario’s somewhat nebulous pedestrian rules — by the way, the pedestrian does not automatically have the right of way in this province — collisions at the Elm crosswalk saddle police with the difficult task of figuring out who actually was at fault.
Did the pedestrian have the right of way or the driver? Was the road clear when the pedestrian decided to step off the curb? Was the driver paying attention?
What’s more, there are lighted crossings within a few hundred metres to either side of the contested crosswalk where pedestrians can cross safely and drivers need not fear that someone might dart in front of them.
Getting rid of the crosswalk would also satisfy the owners of the Rainbow Centre mall, who have for years asked that the crosswalk be removed.
More importantly, though, killing the dangerous Elm crosswalk would make the busy downtown street safer for pedestrians and drivers alike.