The City of Surrey has been giving pedestrians a “head start.”
The “leading pedestrian intervals” (LPIs) are in operation at close to 70 intersections throughout the city, said Surrey’s road safety manager Shabnem Afzal.
LPIs, a traffic signal timing feature, give pedestrians a head start of about seven seconds, Afzal said.
Pedestrians crossing at the LPIs need to press the “WALK” button to activate it.
The pedestrians will then get a roughly seven-second head start before the light turns green for vehicles driving through the intersection or turning left.
Afzal said this allows drivers to better see pedestrians and to prevent more pedestrian-vehicles crashes.
“From our experience and our research, we’ve been finding on an ongoing basis that if we give them seven seconds head start, we found that it was the most effective in terms of making – ensuring – that pedestrians are visible to drivers as they’re turning. Any shorter, there’s a risk that they won’t be visible,” Afzal said.
According to ICBC statistics, almost one-in-five people killed in car crashes in B.C. are pedestrians. On average, 2,700 pedestrians are injured in crashes every year in the province.
Collisions involving pedestrians, ICBC says, happen most often between 3 and 6 p.m.; on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; between October and January; and at intersections.
Pedestrian-vehicle collisions count for 80 per cent of all crashes at Lower Mainland intersections.
LPIs are part of the city’s Vision Zero strategy.
The city launched the strategy in February of 2019, with a goal of reducing deaths and injuries on roads by 15 per cent over five years.
It’s “one of the tools in the toolbox” of road safety professionals, she said.
“The research behind it shows that it can lead to a decrease up to 60 per cent (of pedestrian-vehicle crashes),” Afzal said.
“We’ve really tried to focus on how we can help pedestrians stay safe. As you know, recently, we’ve had an unfortunate number of pedestrians involved in these such collisions. This is something that happens across the country, and across the province and cities, as we move into the winter months. It’s darker, the weather’s bad and drivers often find it difficult to see pedestrians at times as well.”
On Dec. 24, 2018, a pedestrian was hit by a vehicle travelling eastbound on Scott Road at 96th Avenue. The pedestrian was transported to hospital with “potentially life-threatening injuries,” according to a freelancer on scene.
Then on Dec. 16, in two separate incidents, pedestrians were hit by vehicles.
The first happened on 188th Street at 56B Avenue around 7 a.m. A pedestrian was hit by a northbound vehicle on 188th Street and was rushed to hospital with serious injuries.
Then several hours later, there was a fatal crash at 192nd Street and 80th Avenue. A pedestrian was hit by an eastbound vehicle on 80th Avenue and died on scene.
Two days earlier, a pedestrian was hit and killed in the 7100-block of Scott Road on Dec. 14. Police said the pedestrian was crossing the street, mid-intersection, when they were hit. The pedestrian was transported to hospital, but later died of their injuries.
This year, Afzal said, the city is undertaking a review of intersections with the hopes that by the end of the year, the city might even double the current number of LPIs.
LPIs have been implemented over the past couple of years, but Afzal said most were set up in 2019.
“We’ve ramped it up in the last six months,” she said.
For more information on LPIs, visit surrey.ca/city-services/30384.aspx.