Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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Harmer and Wellington: A tale of 390 pedestrians

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In a continuing series of experiments with crowdsourced traffic analysis, I went out recently to the corner of Harmer and Wellington West. On Thursday, November 26 I shot the intersection from roughly 4:00 till 5:15ish. It's an intersection about which I've been warned - particularly with respect to cars zooming by stopped buses by using the oncoming traffic lane.

As with the Island Park/Byron filming, Kevin O'Donnell served up the video to volunteer observers who counted cars, bikes and pedestrians, and made notes about what they saw. Most of the clips were viewed at least twice for greater accuracy. While the observations are the heart of this initiative, we continue to fine-tune the methodology and I'm always interested to see how many people we can count on to participate. Here's the top line stats:

  • Total clip viewings - 179
  • Total participating observers - 26
  • Median number of clips viewed by each observer - 2
  • Average number of clips viewed by each observer - 7
  • Total number of pedestrians counted (sum of averages) - 390
  • Total number of bikes counted (sum of averages) - 28
  • Total number of cars counted (sum of averages) - 1002

Compared to our earlier Island Park/Byron count, we saw quite a bit less crowd participation. Observers viewed on average fewer clips, and there were only 26 compared to 63. My own guess is that the first round had a novelty factor, resulting in higher hits, and I wonder if the intersection has far less profile as a trouble-spot in the ward. Island Park and Byron generates a ton of complaints to my office - Harmer/Wellington far, far fewer. I won't be able to do a peak-hour filming this week due to my schedule, but I'm looking at doing the corner of Carruthers/Rosemount/Wellington next. It's probably one of the highest generators of complaints, and I'll be curious to see if that incents more participation. I also almost have the day off today, so might film some weekend traffic at Churchill/Richmond where I've been frustrated with respect to achieving some changes.

What strikes me most about the Harmer/Wellingon intersection is the high volume of pedestrian traffic and what I think is a high rate of jaywalking. Most of this jaywalking, though, seems to be pretty "safe", Some of it is east/west where we see a pretty empty intersection for the most part. Much of it north/south is clearly the result of a very long light cycle. This is something I'll raise with our traffic folks. 

More concerning are relatively frequent pedestrian/car conflicts. From my qualitative analysis, it looks like these are often the result of cars heading north on Harmer that stop in the crosswalk looking for an opportunity to turn right, sometimes in front of a pedestrian crossing east/west with the light. Sometimes, drivers don't even slow down to make this right-on-red, and wind up in conflict with north/south, legally-crossing, pedestrians. It's indicative, to my mind, of the overall problem we have in the ward of cars not stopping at red lights, and failing to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. My initial response will be to share our findings with police - enforcement is probably the best way to address this problem, with red-light cameras at our problem intersections as a longer-term goal.

Again, my thanks go out to Kevin, particularly, for his continued volunteer work on this initiative. And, of course, my thanks to the anonymous users who are participating in the counts. Our traffic department is interested in the initiative, and we'll be chatting more about it in the near future. Addressing pedestrian and cyclist safety is a daily but critical grind in my office. I'm encouraged so far that this initiative holds out some promise for achieving changes. I am very grateful to everyone for helping Kevin and I out with it.

For those interested, the full dataset is attached below.

Posted December 6, 2015