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Saanich expands pilot program giving pedestrians a ‘head start’ in crosswalks

New crosswalk buttons to be installed 12 more locations
Leading Pedestrian Interval crosswalk buttons can be found at the intersection of Chatterton Way and Emily Carr Drive. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich helps pedestrians “get ahead of traffic” with re-imagined crosswalk buttons.

As part of the Moving Saanich Forward initiative, the District has been experimenting with Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPI) crossing signals that give pedestrians a head start.

When someone pushes the button, a walk signal comes on before the cars heading in the same direction get a green light, explained Harley Machielse, director of engineering. This allows pedestrians to get partway across the street before the cars start moving. When the button isn’t pushed, the traffic lights work normally.

Machielse noted that LPI are proven to reduce the risk of collisions between pedestrians and drivers.

The pilot program is partially funded by ICBC and started with six intersections in the Lake Hill and North Quadra neighbourhoods. Saanich’s first LPI was installed in September 2019 at Cedar Hill Cross Road and Braefoot Road/Harrop Road. Machielse pointed out, it was also the first on the South Island.

As the response was positive, LPIs were installed at five other intersections: Quadra Street and Reynolds Road; Quadra Street and Lily Avenue; Quadra Street and Beckwith Avenue; Quadra Street and Chatterton Way’ and Chatterton Way and Emily Carr Drive.

“These head starts are a component of our Active Transportation Plan and represent our commitment to improving walking, biking and other active mobility options,” Machielse said. “The installations have proven to be a cost-effective strategy that has been shown to improve pedestrian safety.”

He noted that while LPIs aren’t suitable for all intersections, there are plans to install them at 12 more locations in Saanich in 2020.

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