From the Kingston Whig-Standard:
Kingston's two original courtesy pedestrian crossings will be upgraded to crosswalks requiring full vehicle stops this fall.
As of Jan. 1, the Highway Traffic Act was amended to allow the installation of full-stop crossings even where there are no traffic lights or stop signs.
"This is a very clear, black-and-white law," said city traffic manager Deanna Green. "If a pedestrian is standing at the side of the road all vehicles must stop until the pedestrian has fully completed that crossing -- curb to curb."
There are 10 courtesy crossings around Kingston but none currently requires vehicles to stop for pedestrians.
The remaining eight will be replaced over the next two years with pedestrian-activated, flashing amber lights and regulatory pedestrian signs.
The estimated cost is $25,000 per crossing.
The city will first convert the courtesy crossings on King Street near Kingston General Hospital and on Rideau Street at Rideaucrest Home for the Aged.
The courtesy crossings were controversial because there was no legal requirement to give pedestrians the right of way.
"Those courtesy crossings were always an interim measure. And it's not consistent. You won't find them anywhere in North America," said Green. "Not even in Ontario. And they're not recognized in the Highway Traffic Act."
In four years of use, the courtesy crossings only resulted in one accident in which a car was rear-ended after stopping to allow a pedestrian to cross.
"I would say they're working in that we haven't had any incidents but only half of motorists were yielding -- half or less. Motorists didn't stop if they didn't feel like it. And most didn't," said Green.
The new crossings will require vehicles, including bicycles, to stop for pedestrians and even if the crossing light is not activated.
"It is the sign that requires vehicles to stop," she said. "It's still a legal crosswalk without that light being activated."
Green acknowledged there will be a "learning curve" for both pedestrians and motorists.
The city and Kingston Police will team up for a public education effort.
Fines for motorists can range from $150 to $500.
Green said it is incumbent upon pedestrians to signal their intent before walking onto the roadway.
"We're telling pedestrians make sure vehicles have come to a stop before you enter the crosswalk. You should indicate you're about to cross with a hand gesture," she said.
If using the crossing, cyclists must dismount and walk their bikes or else they are considered a vehicle.
Green said some of the initial installation work has begun at the King Street and Rideau Street locations in preparation for the September launch.