You may have noticed some new signage that has yet to be uncovered appearing at traffic circles such as the one at Huntmar and Rosehill as of late. Here is the explanation.
At the majority of – if not all – roundabouts outside of Ontario, vehicles have to yield to pedestrians at the roundabout crossings. Prior to January 2016, there was no legislation in place in Ontario to allow municipalities to install signage to have vehicles yield to pedestrians. That changed this past January as the Highway Traffic Act was amended to allow municipalities to install unsignalized Pedestrian Crossovers (PXOs). This device will provide priority for pedestrians requiring vehicles to stop and allow them to cross the street at these crosswalks. As identified in the Council approved Pedestrian Crossover Program (September 2015) the PXO for mid-block crossings as well as at roundabouts will start to be implemented.
Past studies that the City has conducted at roundabouts indicate that between 50 % and 70 % of vehicles yield to pedestrians that are waiting to cross the street. As some have mentioned in social media conversations, vehicles are today yielding to pedestrians, when legally they don’t need to.
This creates safety issues. Drivers behind a car that is stopping may not expect this to occur which causes them to have to brake suddenly. Once the appropriate signage and pavement markings are installed at the roundabout crossings, it will be clear to all drivers that if a pedestrian is present, they must stop if it is safe to do so. This should eliminate any uncertainty for drivers behind a vehicle approaching an intersection if they will or will not stop. Since pedestrian crossings are very short (about 5m) the delay to motorists when pedestrians are present will be minimal (as we see today when vehicles do stop for pedestrians).
Implementation of the PXOs at roundabouts will begin to take place in late June.
All single lane roundabouts where pedestrians will be present (the majority of them) will have the PXOs applied. It is necessary to do this for consistency across the city.
I understand that this is a big change in operations at the roundabouts and both my office and the rest of City staff plan on undertaking an extensive education/awareness campaign in advance of the installation of the PXOs at roundabouts and at midblock and intersection locations to ensure that motorists as well as pedestrians have an understanding of what the PXO means, how it operates and what everyone’s responsibilities are.
The City will initiate this communication initiative on the 24th of May and it will continue through the remainder of the Pedestrian Crossover three year pilot project period.
As always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact my office at Shad.Qadri@ottawa.ca.