Crossing Memorial Ave

Memorial_High_SouthIt is very difficult to see the next traffic light when looking south on Memorial Ave from High St. The light, including the next marked pedestrian crossing, is approximately 1 kilometre away. Consider being midway between these intersections and needing to cross the street. During busy times of day it is difficult to find a safe break in traffic and crossing the 5 lanes of traffic is dangerous for anyone with mobility difficulty, at any time. If  the pedestrian walks to the light and then back down the other side of the street it could require walking a full kilometre to get where you want to go. Of course, if you have difficulty walking it is dangerous without a controlled crossing, but prohibitive to walk a kilometre to simply cross the street. It is interesting to note that most research into pedestrian behaviour shows that people with ready access to a vehicle will choose not to walk if the destination is more than about 400 m away.

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Looking north from High St we see a similar situation. It is possible to just make out the controlled intersection at John St but it is almost 800 metres away. Again, crossing between the lights is difficult and dangerous and yet a prohibitive distance to walk to the lights if you are not close to High St or John St. The more difficult it is for you to cross the street, the more onerous the extra distance to a controlled intersection becomes.

Memorial Ave is not part of suburban sprawl, but is a busy commercial strip which runs right through the heart of Thunder Bay. Having only one safe pedestrian crossing along a 1.8 km stretch of this artery is crazy! The Ontario government recently passed the Enhancing Road Safety in Ontario Act. It allows municipalities to use new pedestrian crossing devices. There are many places in Thunder Bay where these are needed but nowhere more so than along this stretch of Memorial Ave.

Intersection at Red River Rd

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This intersection at Red River Rd and Algonquin St in Thunder Bay was redone this past summer – new curbs, traffic control lights and sidewalk approaches. Notice that there are no pedestrian signals, or pavement markers on this side of Algonquin St to cross Red River Rd. In order to cross the street and head East (to the right) using the intersection as designed requires pedestrians to cross Algonquin, cross Red River Rd and then backtrack. I realize that commuters who don’t walk for transportation would say “what’s the big deal? So you need to walk triple the distance to cross the street and wait for two lights instead of just one – as long as you’re not impeding the flow of real traffic.”

Most traffic, vehicular and pedestrian goes left here towards a busy commercial strip on Red River Rd. There is another light with pedestrian signals less than a block away to the West. It’s four blocks to the next light going East and so walking out of your way may be necessary unless you cross here without the benefit of pedestrian lights and scale the snowbank on the other side of Red River Rd.