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New West launches pilot project aimed at improving pedestrian safety

“Leading pedestrian interval” aims to give pedestrians a head start to cross street – and increase their visibility to motorists

Pedestrians are getting a head start when they cross at a busy intersection in the Brow of the Hill neighbourhood.

A new “leading pedestrian interval” pilot project has been installed at the 12th Street and Third Avenue intersection. It’s the first leading pedestrian interval (LPI) crossing in New West, which give pedestrians a several-second head start to cross the road before the parallel light turns green – increasing the visibility of pedestrians and improving pedestrian-vehicle safety.

Mike Anderson, the city’s manager of transportation, said LPI has been growing in use across North America in the past several years, including the Lower Mainland. He noted they have been implemented at select locations in Vancouver, Surrey and Coquitlam.

“The LPI is really about providing both priority and improved safety to pedestrians. It gives pedestrians a head start into the crosswalk before the drivers are given their green light,” he explained. “With LPI, pedestrians have more time to cross without conflicting with turning vehicles, and they are more visible to drivers because they are well into the crosswalk when drivers get a green light to move into the intersection.”

According to Anderson, LPIs have been found to reduce collisions involving pedestrians. He said they’ve also been found to reduce collisions with cyclists, when they’re used in conjunction with protected cycling lanes.

“In recent years, we have heard several concerns about pedestrian-vehicle conflicts occurring at this intersection, especially involving students at John Knox Christian School,” he said. “With our focus on school traffic safety and with appropriate conditions at this intersection, we felt this was a good location to pilot the LPI in New Westminster.”

Anderson said the city is considering other locations for LPI, but not all locations are appropriate, so they’ll have to be evaluated for their suitability.

Anderson said council adopted a new signalized intersections policy in 2021, which provided staff with direction to adjust the city’s traffic signal designs and operations to improve the safety and comfort of vulnerable road users, particularly pedestrians, users of mobility aids, cyclists, etc.

“LPI is identified in the policy as one strategy for accomplishing this,” he said.

Anderson said the city is continuing to implement various measures to make walking, cycling and taking transit safer, more convenient and more comfortable.

“We are very open to testing new approaches like LPI to achieve these goals, and will use them more broadly across the city if they prove to be successful and appreciated by the community,” he said.

The City of New Westminster's 2015 master transportation plan outlines a hierarchy that will be followed when planning transportation improvements. Walking is in the top spot, followed by cycling, transit, commercial vehicles and cars.

“The city’s master transportation plan, as well as the recently adopted signalized intersection policy, places the mobility, accessibility and safety of those on foot and using mobility aids at the top of our transportation hierarchy,” Anderson said. “The use of LPIs to make it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross signalized intersections is very consistent with the city’s priorities.”


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