Central Manitoulin council authorizes the placement of crossing decals on new sidewalks

New decals advising pedestrians to “Be Alert” will be installed at the intersections of Highway 542 and 551 in Mindemoya once the ice and snow will permit the work. The decals are brightly coloured and intended to advise people to watch for traffic as they cross the intersection. photo by Marie Ford

CENTRAL MANITOULIN—A set of decals provided by the Manitoulin Injury Prevention Coalition (MIPC), courtesy of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO), will exhort pedestrians to “Be Alert” when crossing the road from the new sidewalks at the intersection of Highway 542 and Highway 551. Council passed a recommendation from the Security, Health and Education committee to install the decals once the new sidewalks are completed.

“The decals were brought to our attention at the Manitoulin Injury Prevention Coalition by one of our members who is from the MTO,” said MIPC spokesperson OPP Constable Marie Ford. The decals came up during discussions last year about the impact of daylight saving time on driver and pedestrian safety.

“The idea is that these decals, brightly coloured, draw attention and remind people to watch for traffic as they are crossing the road,” said Constable Ford.

“These aren’t a permanent solution,” offered Councillor Steve Shaffer, who seconded the motion made by Councillor Derek Stephens. “They probably will only last one season, but it is something to try.”

“These were probably developed for millennials since they are always looking down at their phones,” suggested Councillor Stephens.

“Well, if you were looking down at your screen you would probably see the decals and be alerted to check for traffic before you cross,” said Constable Ford. “We did not receive any information on the demographic they were developed for when we got the decals,” she laughed. “But we did note that a stop light went up on the stop sign at the intersection to alert drivers.”

While much is being done to alert drivers to the presence of pedestrians, the reverse is also an important consideration and the decals will work toward that end. As to the whole watching cellphone screens while walking along sidewalks, Constable Ford noted that in some parts of England municipalities have taken to padding lighting poles to protect people walking into them while disctacted.

“There really are a lot of people crossing at that intersection, especially in the summer,” continued Constable Ford. “The more we can enhance safety the better.”

The MTO has been providing the decals to communities in southern Ontario where they are being installed at pedestrian intersections.

“We have given Central Manitoulin four of the decals,” said Constable Ford. “It is left to council where they want to put them.”

Constable Ford said the decals “go along with our coalition mandate, highlighting safety.” She said that the MIPC has received more than 100 fluorescent arm bands from the Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates to distribute to Island youth to increase their visibility while cycling.

The decals will be installed by town crews once the ice and snow have abated and the sidewalks can be worked on.