You’ve likely heard these sounds while crossing certain intersections in British Columbia. Audible signals, which tell visually-impaired pedestrians when it’s safe to cross a road controlled by traffic lights, are helping set the tone for the province’s routine soundtrack.
Watch this video to get a better idea of how audible signals announce pedestrian right-of-ways:
Port Alberni received these important enhancements in 2012. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure worked with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to determine the top four Port Alberni intersections in need of audible signals:
- Highway 4 and Gertrude Street
- Highway 4 and Cherry Creek Road
- Highway 4 and Broughton Street
- Highway 4 and Helen Street
About 135,000 people in BC and more than 1 million Canadians live with blindness or significant vision loss, according to CNIB. The audible signals are an important upgrade to help locals travel safely around Port Alberni.
“I am thrilled that new accessible signals will be installed within Port Alberni,” said CNIB Orientation and Mobility Specialist Barbara Schuster. “Ensuring the safety and security of all Port Alberni residents is of utmost priority, and we are thankful that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Port Alberni residents were accepting of this plan.”
Sound isn’t the only way the ministry is enhancing safety for pedestrians (and cyclists, too) across the province. Here are a few community enhancement projects designed to keep walkers, pedallers and wheelchair users safely on the move.
Take a stroll in Old Massett: The community on the northern tip of Haida Gwaii received sidewalk improvements along Raven Road this summer.
Chetwynd: Soon there will be no excuse to pick up a book or work up a sweat. Installation of a pedestrian-activated traffic signal is nearly complete at the Highway 97 and 46th Street intersection, an important crossing for residents heading to the local library, recreation centre and schools.
Take two in Telkwa: A pair of crosswalks was recently installed on Highway 16, and a speed reader was permanently placed for northbound travellers on Coalmine Road just west of Dogwood Street. Hooking up hydro is the remaining step.
Houston: Speaking of speed readers… a new one facing the eastbound lane of Highway 16 in Houston will increase safety for travellers and pedestrians by encouraging drivers to reduce speed through the community.
Fort St. James: The Nak’azdli community is getting brighter with new luminaires on Highway 27, along with a new pedestrian-activated traffic signal.
Logan Lake: At the request of the local community and in response to increasing traffic from the Highland Valley copper mine, a pedestrian-activated traffic light was recently installed on Highway 97D to improve safety for students and others crossing at Chartrand Avenue.
Merritt: The Highway 8 and Garcia Street intersection was upgraded this summer with improved notification warning lights and signage.
Invermere: The Athalmer Road pedestrian trail is growing 450 metres longer, extending from Lakeview Drive to Highway 93/95. The extension is part of a bigger plan to link several communities and businesses in the Columbia Valley.
Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island
Squamish: The urban trail network is getting some TLC in high pedestrian traffic areas. Traffic island wheelchair ramps are getting bigger and shoulders are widening.
Vancouver: SW Marine Drive, one of the main entrances to the University of British Columbia, had its cycling lanes widened from 41st Street to Kullahun Drive, improving safety for many commuting cyclists.
Drawing the line on Gabriola Island: The Gulf Island community recently received two new crosswalks and repainted stop bars to show drivers where to stop at key intersections.
Tofino: Whether carrying surfboard or school books, pedestrians and cyclists are now crossing Highway 4 at Gibson Street more safely with a new flashing crosswalk.
As you can see, working closely with communities across BC is important to ensuring our roadways, walkways and cycling paths coexist to move us safely. From brighter lighting to signals you can hear, community enhancements appeal to our safety senses.