City Council votes to improve foot traffic

Council looks to add diagonal crosswalk on campus

Students often jaywalk at University Ave. and Union St., regardless of traffic lights or official crossings.
Students often jaywalk at University Ave. and Union St., regardless of traffic lights or official crossings.
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University Ave. and Union St. may receive a scramble crossing in September.
University Ave. and Union St. may receive a scramble crossing in September.
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The University District may see an improvement in pedestrian traffic and the University may receive a new crossing at a heavily trafficked intersection, thanks to two motions that passed at City Council last month.

The two motions, which were brought forward by Williamsville District Councillor Jim Neill and seconded by Sydenham Councillor Peter Stroud, focus on improving pedestrian traffic in the University District by broadening pedestrian priority sidewalk snow removal and exploring the feasibility of a “scramble crossing” at Union St. and University Ave.

A scramble crossing is a pedestrian crossing system that allows pedestrians to cross in any direction simultaneously — including diagonally — while stopping all traffic.

“It’s a good way to start off a new term. Everyone is sort of on the same page,” Stroud said.

A report about the feasibility of the scramble crossing will be brought back to Council “no later than June”, according to the motion, with the potential project implementation in September.

Stroud said recommendations usually get passed, but Council must take into account provincial laws dealing with traffic and infrastructure before implementing the project. Stroud added that although Toronto already has scramble intersections, they fall under a separate transportation act than Kingston’s would.

If the project is rejected under provincial law, Stroud said, “We’d have to lobby our provincial representative to try get an amendment for that law … hopefully that doesn’t happen.”

Stroud said the scramble and snow removal projects are important because of the high density of pedestrians in the University District.

“When you get jaywalking, it’s an indication that your existing traffic laws are either inadequate or you have massive amounts of scofflaws,” he said.

The scramble crossing is supported by the University, as well.

“The addition of a scramble crossing at the intersection of Union Street and University Avenue aligns well with the Campus Master Plan, which recommended several changes to help improve pedestrian safety at priority intersections on campus,” Deputy Provost Laeeque Daneshmend told the Journal via email.

Daneshmend said the AMS played a significant role in moving this initiative forward with the City of Kingston.

AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner Ariel Aguilar Gonzalez said snow removal is a large part of the AMS’s municipal platform, and as discussions came up around snow removal, the crosswalk was tied in.

“The benefit of us going forward and ‘making noise’, essentially, is that it forces staff to really recognize that there is such a high pedestrian traffic” that’s made up of more than just students, said Aguilar, ArtSci ’16.

The city has broadened pedestrian snow clearing routes and has been monitoring current situations to bring to discussion for next year. Kingston Public Works will ask for capital increase in order to purchase new equipment, which Aguilar said will help in discussions with the City.

“You can definitely tell that they have increased their activity around the University District,” he said.

“The next step is to formalize that in their official winter control plan.”

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