Ottawa drivers are just too polite for roundabouts.
In most jurisdictions, cars have the right of way over pedestrians at a roundabout. But City of Ottawa studies suggest that 50-70% of vehicles are currently yielding to pedestrians as a courtesy, even though they’re not supposed to.
This week, the city will be lifting the veil on new pedestrian crossovers or “PXOs” at many single-lane roundabouts. It’s part of a bid to make roundabouts and other road crossings safer for pedestrians.
“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,” wrote Councillor Shad Qadri in a recent email to residents.
“Since pedestrian crossings are very short (about five metres) the delay to motorists when pedestrians are present will be minimal (as we see today when vehicles do stop for pedestrians),” he wrote.
And it’s not just roundabouts. Several mid-block crossings will also be getting new PXOs. Crossings will be identified by signs and pavement markings, and some will even have flashing beacons.
Drivers and cyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in the crossover. Once pedestrians have cleared the entire roadway, drivers may proceed. Screw up, and you could be facing a $500 along with three demerit points on your license.
The change comes after changes to Ontario’s <strong>Highway Traffic Act</strong> came into effect earlier this year. The law was revised to allow municipalities to install pedestrian crossovers on low-speed, low- to medium-volume roads. In Ottawa, 60 crossovers will be installed each year for the next three years starting this summer.
Most PXO’s in the city will be activated between June 13-30. For more info, you can visit the City’s PXO page.
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