Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Use cameras at crosswalks: Eadie

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Coun. Ross Eadie might be blind, but he can still tell when motorists have nearly hit him when he is walking in a crosswalk.

That's part of the reason Eadie (Mynarski) is asking the Winnipeg Police Board to look at using the same technology that is ticketing owners of vehicles that blow through red lights at crosswalks.

And, to see how the technology is working, police can go to America's capital.

Eadie said he knows from personal experience -- as well as numerous calls from constituents -- cameras are needed at crosswalks.

"I've had a lot of crazy experience at the corridors," he said on Wednesday. "I've had three near misses in recent years."

In the most recent incident, Eadie said he could hear the vehicle coming when he was in the middle of the crosswalk.

"I didn't know whether I should go forward or stop. I stopped and he went by right in front of me," he said. "I thought he must be as blind as me."

Eadie said most calls he receives are people in his ward complaining about motorists not stopping at crosswalks on Main Street, but he knows it is a city-wide problem.

"This is about the safety of pedestrians."

Eadie said the proposal will be before the police board at its meeting on Friday.

Rev. Mark Satterly, of Kildonan United Church on Kilbride Avenue, said he and his parishioners see both motorists and pedestrians misusing a nearby crosswalk.

"There is definitely a need to have more education on crosswalks," he said. "I've also seen pedestrians push the button and immediately step out. Motorists can't stop on a dime.

"To me the idea is not to catch people, it is to change their behaviour... it is to reduce the risk of accidents."

In Washington D.C., the Metropolitan Police Department installed cameras at 16 crosswalks across the city in late November as part of its DC Street Safe program.

The city was set to begin issuing tickets this month, but has since decided to have a 30-day grace period while motorists are educated about the new cameras.

Gwendolyn Crump, a police department spokeswoman, said the new crosswalk units have been installed near schools and recreation centres.

Crump said because the grace period is still on they have no statistics yet. A police statement says the crosswalk cameras use "video analytics and radar to determine if a vehicle has stopped when someone is in the crosswalk."

Violators in Washington will be fined $250.

Eadie, noting the cameras would also have to be greenlighted by the province, said he's pleased to hear there's at least one jurisdiction where the cameras are in place.

"It will make it easier to persuade the province," he said.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Do you think cameras would make pedestrians safer? Or just make it easier to charge the driver who hit them? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 23, 2014 B2

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Updated on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:55 AM CST: Changes photo, adds video, adds question for discussion

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