If there ever comes to be a television show called “Pointless Things”, North Grenville residents must phone in an episode suggestion. The topic? Courtesy crosswalks. Strictly speaking, courtesy crosswalks are probably as useful as a submarine with screen doors. Not only does their function require people to have… well… courtesy, but they also have the potential to lull pedestrians into a false – and dangerous – sense of security.
Last week, a resident complained on social media about the difficulty of crossing Prescott St due to vehicles not stopping. It was Councillor Kristin Strackerjan who chimed in online to point out that courtesy crosswalks really are governed by nothing but courtesy. Councillor Strackerjan made it very clear that she opposes the idea of courtesy crosswalks, and is pushing for mandatory designated crosswalks to be put in place instead.
While it is true that some drivers will stop out of an abundance of kindness and decency, many (or perhaps most) drivers tend not to stop. In nearby Winchester, three designated crosswalks in town that are used by school children are still often the subject of complaints when motorists ignore them. One of these crosswalks has a full green-amber-red traffic light system, and the other two have full signage and button-activated warning lights. It is mandatory to stop at these crosswalks, but drivers ignore them anyway, probably thinking that “it will only take a few seconds to get through, and then the pedestrian can cross”, or “the car behind me will stop”. If motorists aren’t stopping at designated crosswalks where they risk fines, thinking that courtesy crosswalks are useful is a fallacy.
While we wait (hopefully not long) for a better crosswalk system in downtown Kemptville, pedestrians are reminded to take precautions when crossing the street. Never assume that vehicles are going to stop, and always proceed with an abundance of caution.