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Pedestrian lights set up between CNC main campus and John A. Brink Building

A partnership between the City of Prince George, College of New Caledonia (CNC), and Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) has resulted in a new pedestrian lights at a busy intersection in the city.

Students and visitors walking between CNC’s main campus and the John A. Brink Trades and Technology Centre may have noticed a recent addition on their route. A solar-powered rectangular rapid flashing beacon was installed in December 2022 at the existing 18th Avenue crosswalk connecting the parts of CNC’s campus.

“Beacons give drivers ample visual warning that people are about to cross the street and also make it more they will stop for pedestrians,” said Chris Vliegenthart, the city’s supervisor of transportation services.

“The campus’s joint health and safety committee identified this improvement as an important safety step,” said Tara Szerencsi, CNC’s vice-president of finance and corporate services. “We’re grateful for their advocacy, as well as the work of the City of Prince George and ICBC in making this new beacon a reality.”

“We’re pleased to contribute to these crosswalk improvements to help make the community safer for pedestrians,” said Doug Mac Donald, ICBC’s local road safety coordinator. “We’ll continue to invest in road improvement projects that help reduce crashes and make our roads safer.”

Rectangular rapid flashing beacons are similar to overhead flashing lights employed by the city to draw attention to pedestrian traffic, but flash at a higher rate and are typically mounted on poles. The beacon on 18th Avenue is pedestrian-activated and consists of two rapidly and alternately pulsing LED indicators. A 2010 study conducted in Florida by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that beacons were effective at compelling drivers to yield right-of-way to pedestrians at crosswalks where many had failed to do so prior to an beacon’s installation.

Although the City of Prince George’s Pedestrian Crossing Strategy did not identify the 18th Avenue crosswalk for upgrades, the city partnered with CNC to purchase and set up the system with funding assistance from ICBC. CNC obtained the beacon for roughly $17,500 and the city paid approximately $12,500 in material and installation costs. In addition, the city is responsible for maintaining the beacon, which includes:

  • Cleaning the solar panels and beacons;
  • Checking the battery, controller settings, and pedestrian buttons;
  • Performing software updates; and
  • Repairing and replacing components as needed.

In spite of the safety features found in beacons, Vliegenthart warned that pedestrian control systems alone do not guarantee a person’s safety.

“Always obey traffic signals and check that traffic has stopped before stepping onto the street,” he said.

The systems were approved in 2014 by the Transportation Association of Canada for inclusion as a traffic control device in their Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Canada. The manual helps governments on all levels in Canada “apply traffic control devices in a consistent and harmonized manner”.

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