News

1. Convention Centre

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is the lead agency overseeing the Nova Centre project, which includes the convention centre. Back in 2012, TIR and Nova Centre developer Joe Ramia signed an agreement spelling out the terms of the project, including a “substantial completion” date of December 31, 2015. The agreement also spells out that the terms cannot be changed except through a written agreement signed by both parties.

But TIR only learned that the project wouldn’t be completed on time when Ramia had a press conference to announce the delay. Now, because Ramia gets whatever he wants, officials are scrambling to create that written agreement after-the-fact.

2. Pedestrians

Halifax police have released the latest stats on vehicle/pedestrian collisions. There were 39 incidents in November, up from 24 last November and the most in any month since the police have been tracking them.

From January through November there were 223 incidents, with 229 pedestrians hit (some incidents involved multiple pedestrians). Eighty-two of the incidents (57 percent) occurred at crosswalks, and another 33 (23 percent) occurred in parking lots. Drivers were ticketed at seven times the rate of pedestrians. Four people have died. The report doesn’t say how police determine the severity of injuries, but it says nine people suffered “serious” injury, 27 “moderate” injuries and 113 “minor” injuries.

The report doesn’t break down the circumstances of each collision, but the year-end report will. But according to news reports and police releases, of the last six incidents in Halifax, five involved vehicles turning left and striking a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon:

A pedestrian has been taken to hospital after she was hit by a vehicle Thursday afternoon on Halifax’s Robie Street, near the intersection with South Street.

Police say the person was not at a crosswalk when she was hit by a vehicle heading northbound on Robie Street.

And last night:

A 37-year-old Eastern Passage woman sustained minor injuries after she was hit by a pickup truck at the intersection of Caldwell Road and Shore Road, shortly before 8:30 p.m.

She was taken from the scene for treatment at Dartmouth General Hospital and released shortly thereafter. Halifax Regional Police say she was in a crosswalk but the area is not lit and the crosswalk is not marked. She was also wearing dark clothes.

The pickup truck, driven by a 44-year-old Cole Harbour man, was turning left when the pedestrian was hit.

And students at Acadia University in Wolfville held a demonstration yesterday in support of closing the northern part of University Avenue to cars.

3. Pets

The provincial government has issued new standards for pet care. They include:

— prohibiting tethering for more than 12 consecutive hours
— a veterinarian certificate of health is required in order to sell both cats and dogs
— new rules for outdoor care, shelters, pens and enclosures
— new requirements around the transportation of cats and dogs

Enforcement officials are now able to write summary offence tickets for violations of the act and regulations. Fines range from about $200 to $700.

The changes in the law also allow SPCA officers to break car windows to rescue dogs.

4. Emma DiCara Tichenor

The woman killed in a crash on Highway 101 Monday was Emma DiCara Tichenor, a promising young scientist at Acadia, reports the Chronicle Herald.

About 70 or 80 people die on Nova Scotia highways each year.

5. Elderly

CBC  reported  about an “elderly” woman hit in a crosswalk Wednesday. She’s 54 years old.

6. Separated at birth?

7. Wild Kingdom

A truck tipped over on the Saint John Harbour Bridge early Thursday morning, spilling 40,000 pounds of lobster onto the roadway. Brett Bundale reports:

“They didn’t know which way the water was,” he [Cecil McCavour] said of the disoriented lobsters. “They’re bandaged, so their claws can’t open and the air was cold. They wouldn’t have survived long.”

He went home and talked to his father, who owns a lobster pound, and asked if they could help. 

Minutes later, he was headed back to the bridge with a trailer in tow. With his father’s help, McCavour and his two buddies worked all night and managed to save almost 30,000 pounds of lobsters.

“We spent all night transporting the lobster crates to our pound. We have a building that’s like a big swimming pool for the lobsters. We put the crates right in the water.”


Views

1. Public spaces

Sean Gillis wants to feed the ducks at the Public Gardens. There are signs all over the place: Don’t feed the ducks.

2. Garbage

Lezlie Lowe says we all have to get better at sorting garbage.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

We’ve seen a demonstration of the steering wheel on the Bluenose II, but anyone could stand on the deck of the ship and turn the wheel. How do we know that the rudder is turning unless we see the ship operating in the water?

I am willing to bet that all that electronic gear and lights and switches associated with the steering system will be adversely affected by the salt air and salt spray when the ship is out on the water. Replacing the electronics will be the next expense. 

Sooner or later, it will be necessary to remove the steel rudder due to rust and corrosion and put the wooden rudder back on, the way it should have been done in the first place.

Gerald Harris, Halifax


Government

No public meetings.


On campus

No public events. It’s exam time. The line at the Coburg Coffee Shop goes out the door.


Noticed

For almost the entire history of streets—8,000 years or so—they were the domain of pedestrians, people walking. There weren’t rules. People could walk across the street at any point, could wander down the middle of the street, could pass on the right or left, whatever. It’s true that with heavy horse traffic and poor drainage the streets could be a terrible mess and so elevated sidewalks were created, but nonetheless there were no laws against pedestrians using the streets however they wanted to, nor any reason for such laws. Nineteenth century prints showing city streets depict people walking in the streets, socializing in the middle of the street, using them as people have for thousands of years before.

So how is it that streets are now the domain of cars? Cars have priority, and strict rules restrict pedestrians to tiny portions of the street in highly regulated circumstances. Turn to social media after any of the many pedestrian collisions, and you’ll see a steady lecture about “stupid” pedestrians, where the natural order of things is that pedestrians have got to look out for their lives and they damn near deserve getting killed if they don’t wear bright yellow, carry flashlights, make eye contact, erect billboards announcing their intention, and serve coffee at stoplights to potentially weary drivers.

This change in attitudes about pedestrians on streets didn’t just happen. It wasn’t simply that cars were invented and so everyone agreed to new rules for pedestrians. I’ve linked to this before, but the 99% Invisible podcast has a wonderful edition titled “The Modern Moloch” that gives a history of the change:

On the streets of early 20th Century America, nothing moved faster than 10 miles per hour. Responsible parents would tell their children, “Go outside, and play in the streets. All day.”

And then the automobile happened. And then automobiles began killing thousands of children, every year.

Much of the public viewed the car as a death machine. One newspaper cartoon even compared the car to Moloch, the god to whom the Ammonites supposedly sacrificed their children.

Pedestrian deaths were considered public tragedies. Cities held parades and built monuments in memory of children who had been struck and killed by cars. Mothers of children killed in the streets were given a special white star to honor their loss.

The main cause for these deaths was that the rules of the street were vastly different than how they are today. A street functioned like a city park, or a pedestrian mall, where you could move in any direction without really thinking about it. The only moving hazards were animals and other people.

Turn-of-the-century footage from San Francisco’s Market Street shows just how casually people strode into the street. [see the link for the video]

…Automotive interests banded together under the name Motordom. One of Motordom’s public relations gurus was a man named E. B. Lefferts, who put forth a radical idea: don’t blame cars, blame human recklessness. Lefferts and Motordom sought to exonerate the machine by placing the blame with individuals.

The podcast goes into great detail about how the PR campaign unfolded. It’s worth a listen.


In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 6:15am Friday. Note the heavy tanker traffic (red ships) and all the activity around the Sable Island gas field.The blue ship approaching Halifax Harbour is the Blue Star Ithaki passenger ferry. It wasn’t listed with the usual port traffic, but here it is. Map: marinetraffic.com

(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)

Prabhu Daya, bulker, Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania to anchor for bunkers
Serifos, tanker, Wilmington, Delaware to NS Power plant at Tufts Cove
Fusion, con-ro, Saint-Pierre to Pier 36
Canada 2014 (formerly Blue Star Ithaki)—passenger ferry, Saint John to Halifax, presumably to the Irving Shipyard

Oceanex Sanderling sails for St. John’s

The NSP plant at Tufts Cove mostly burns natural gas, but it also burns oil and gets about a tanker load per year.


Footnotes

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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Oh for a truly pragmatic government that would build public transit infrastructure, add bike lanes, reduce traffic through speed bumps and limits. a few years of outrage and then everyone would realize how much nicer a slow city is.

  2. I’m surprised at the number of people, both on foot and in vehicles, who haven’t learned the lesson of Mike O’Day:

    This is the grave of Mike O’Day
    Who died maintaining his right of way.
    His right was clear, his will was strong,
    But he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.

    1. I’m just continually amazed by the notion that it’s simply OK to run pedestrians over and kill them, and it’s their own damn fault. Drivers don’t even have to blink, there’s not one iota of responsibility for it.

  3. Thanks for that response. I don’t concede so easily that I am wrong, though: I still want to see the rule as written. It does not exist in the NS Motor Vehicle Act, as a quick search has shown me.

    I would suggest that the reply from the police doesn’t answer my question, and I still wonder what the police would say about my specific examples. Do you really consider there to be a crosswalk across Quinpool at Monastery? To me that would be an “invisible” or “imaginary” crosswalk, rather than unmarked. There SHOULD be a proper crosswalk there, of course … In at least one case of a pedestrian being hit by a car in that area a couple of years ago the pedestrian was charged. The NS Motor Vehicle Act Act does not contain the word “unmarked” so I still don’t know where the ‘rule’ about unmarked crosswalks comes from nor how ‘every’ and ‘unmarked’ are defined. I don’t concede that I am wrong until I see the actual rule.

    Section 2.(h) of the NS Motor Vehicle Act defines “crosswalk” as follows: that portion of a roadway ordinarily included within the prolongation or connection of curb lines and property lines at intersections or any other portion of a roadway clearly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface;
    http://nslegislature.ca/legc/statutes/motor%20vehicle.pdf

    Windsor Street in Halifax has a crosswalk on nearly every block. When driving I habitually scan them because I am familiar with them and I know it’s a busy pedestrian street. If every intersection along here is an “unmarked” crosswalk, then why bother with the marked ones? If your interpretation is correct, couldn’t the city save some money by not having marked crosswalks of that kind? I don’t see the logic of turning pedestrians into ambulatory stop signs. I also doubt that idea or rule exists elsewhere because it’s illogical and dangerous.

    I find this debate / discussion very interesting on a couple of levels – most simply because of what I consider an exercise of logic and precision of language (which I haven’t seen yet), and more importantly because it is really effed up that 2 people per day are being hit by cars in our city.

    1. But the definition you cite clearly states:

      “that portion of a roadway ordinarily included within the prolongation or connection of curb lines and property lines at intersections”

      It doesn’t say *some* intersections. It’s all intersections.

      The Drivers’ Handbook says this:
      “Every intersection has a crosswalk. Many are unmarked. Drivers must yield to pedestrians at all intersections, whether crosswalks are marked or unmarked.”

      This came up in the discussion of removing the painted crosswalks, which I wrote about here:
      http://www.halifaxexaminer.ca/city-hall/disappearing-crosswalks-the-science-of-ignoring-pedestrians/

      1. I’ve noticed that the big challenge is ‘paying attention’. If I am getting ready to make a left hand turn, I normally have my attention on the traffic coming toward me, and am waiting until they have passed so I can turn left. If the traffic is heavy, I wait for a chance to ‘dash’ left before more traffic comes toward me. That’s where (it seems to me ) the danger lies. Because in the moment of ‘dash’ I don’t always look for pedestrian traffic – my alarm system is geared to automobile traffic!!! I’ve nearly been caught a couple of times and I’ve hyper- sensitive now – which is good – however I don’t think many people are. Although it’s impossible, I wish the only left turns could be at a traffic light with a flashing arrow. I also remember an elderly gentlemen saying that one of the reasons he lived a long life was because he always made right turns!

      2. The wording is still ambiguous. I still hope that he intention of the rule is that where a pedestrian has right of way over a car because the car has a stop sign or light, then the carmust yield to pedestrians. Duh, right? Except not everyone gets it. So we have this law explaining to the dummies that a ‘regular’ intersection should be treated as a crosswalk even if it does not have the signs & lights of a croswalk. If I am wrong, and the rule truly intends all pedestrians to be mobile stop signs, I still think that would be a really stupid rule. I believe others have articulated it well here.

        1. I can’t see why it’s a stupid rule that drivers should stop for pedestrians. Honestly, I don’t get the objection at all.

          1. I object because it’s dangerous. Some cars stop any-old-where without paying attention to what is coming behind them. It’s dangerous on a 4-lane roadway when the car in the curb lane stops to ‘let’ a pedestrian cross, and the vehicles in the next lane don’t know that a pedestrian is about to step out into traffic in an invisible (imaginary?) crosswalk. I believe a pedestrian death occurred in HRM, maybe bin in Dartmouth? in exactly this manner a few years ago.

          2. The teenage girl who died on Portland Street was in a marked crosswalk, with lights flashing, when a driver passed a car that had properly stopped at the crosswalk.

            The other death on a four-lane road in Dartmouth was on Pleasant Street near the refinery, again with the pedestrian in a crosswalk, with lights flashing.

            On the top of my head, I’m aware of four other pedestrian deaths in Dartmouth in recent years. But all four of those were on two-lane roads.

  4. Whether a car can avoid someone who steps out into traffic without waiting until they know it’s safe is not an issue of driver laziness. The most attentive driver going the speed limit can’t necessarily slam on the brakes safely at the whim of a pedestrian (as recognized in Section 125.3 of the NS Motor Vehicle Act). What if one or more vehicles are traveling close behind? Not safe. This is why sometimes the pedestrian is charged even when they are the one struck by a vehicle. If the municipality has gone to the expense and trouble of installing a big flashy crosswalk, as a pedestrian I would be embarrassed to appear to expect to halt traffic 20 feet from a crosswalk for my convenience. (And I am a pedestrian quite often.)

  5. Tim I’m wondering if you can clear up something that has been bothering me for a long time about the rules in Halifax that says a crosswalk exists at every intersection even if it is not marked. Can you find the actual wording of the of-cited regulation / bylaw or whatever, that states every intersection has an unmarked crosswalk? I believe it is misunderstood, but I have never seen it. I’m basing this on my own powers of logic. !

    Many people (including Douglas Smith, whose blog you linked to yesterday) interpret this rule to mean that pedestrians are essentially walking stop signs. I do not interpret it this way, because I think that is a dangerous and illogical interpretation.

    We all know (hopefully!) what a marked crosswalk looks like. What I believe the so-called ‘unmarked’ crosswalk refers to is the point in an intersection at which a pedestrian has the right of way to cross because cars must stop at a stop sign.

    Example 1: Intersection of Hollis and Salter. There is a big marked crosswalk (overhead lights, the full deal) for pedestrians to cross going east-west across Hollis. There are two unmarked crosswalks on Hollis, crossing Salter on the downhill and uphill sides, because the cars on Salter Street must stop at stop signs. On the 4th part of this intersection there is NO ‘unmarked’ crosswalk outside the entrance of Cabin Coffee, even though it is a corner of the intersection. It is illogical and dangerous for pedestrians to think they can automatically oblige cars to stop at that point where the cars would not otherwise have a legal obligation to stop. (Also obnoxious: walk the 20 feet to the actual crosswalk, ya lazy bum.)

    Example 2: Quinpool Road and Monastery Lane. An unmarked crosswalk exists where Quinpool crosses Monastery, where someone would be walking between the TD bank and the Canadian Tire. There may not be flashing lights above nor zebra stripes below, but it is a legal crosswalk because the cars have to stop anyway. There is NOT an ‘unmarked crosswalk’ across Quinpool at this point just because there is an intersection with Monastery Lane. Pedestrians have no right to walk into the street there, expecting that this would oblige cars to stop for them. Anyone familiar with the typical traffic at that spot would hopefully realize it is not logical to think of themself as a walking stop sign that can command traffic to stop.

    This habit of drivers to stop in the middle of traffic to “let” pedestrians cross is dangerous, especIally on streets more than 2 lanes in width.

    1. Cathy, I asked the cops a while back to define unmarked crosswalk. Here’s the response I got:

      “At far as measurements, for every serious/fatal scene, the collision investigation unit is dispatched to the scene. They then survey the entire scene taking in consideration the placement of fixed objects, curbs, light standards, marking on the pavement and also position of the vehicle involved, pedestrian etc. After speaking with an investigator with the unit (not the one from the actual incident); in the case of unmarked crosswalks, they would plot the prolongation of the curb lines at intersections, which serves them as a baseline to determine the edge of the unmarked crosswalk. They would them plot the unmarked crosswalk by adding the standard width of a marked crosswalk in the city. That then gives them an area that would be the unmarked crosswalk. They then have to determine where the pedestrian was located at the time of the collision by the physical evidence at the scene, position of the body, position of the vehicle, witnesses accounts and anything else that could help shed some light on their actual position at the time of the impact.”

      SO, you are wrong. All those intersections you mention (and ALL intersections, period) are unmarked crosswalks.

      I really have to wonder who’s the lazy bum here: the person walking around town, or the person who is feels put upon to moved a foot three inches from the accelerator pedal to the break pedal.

      1. Tim, you are correct here of course. An unmarked crossing definitely exists in that location.

        BUT.

        Even the police, it turns out, need to send an expert to the scene to identify the precise position and boundaries of the unmarked cross walk. But both a driver and pedestrian are assumed to be able to perform the same calculation in a fraction of a second, in all possible visibility conditions. And it is assumed that they will both agree. If they don’t, one or both of them is potentially facing a ticket.

        The rate of car/pedestrian collisions at unmarked crosswalks is far too high. Yet drivers do not want to hit pedestrians, and pedestrians do not want to be hit. The majority of drivers and the majority of pedestrians do exhibit a reasonable degree of care, and yet these accidents keep happening.

        Why the heck do we have such a concept as “unmarked crosswalks”? Mark every single god-damn one of them in the urban core. And if that’s too expensive (but how many deaths so far this year?) then mark a sufficiently high percentage so that pedestrians are not unreasonably impeded – but change the law to remove the concept of unmarked crosswalks.

        The current situation DOES NOT WORK. Why the heck wouldn’t we change the parameters of the system to make it safer? Tim, it seems that your strategy is to complain about it without ever proposing a solution, in the hope that by some magical process people will get smarter, or more careful, or less lazy. Newsflash: they won’t. Try something else.

        While we’re at it, let’s change traffic signals at intersections so that drivers never have green lights telling them they can turn left or right at the same time as the crosswalk to the left or right has a “walk” signal. Who ever thought that was a good idea? This never happens in Europe, and they have a lower accident rate as a result.

        I might as well keep going in this vein to see if I can qualify for “cranky letter of the week.” Would it hurt the various road maintenance agencies to use marker paint that DOESN’T become completely invisible every time it rains in the dark? Most places in the world use paint with embedded glass beads or other tricks to maximize visibility. Why don’t we?

  6. Every person alive today was born when cars existed. “Back in 4000BC” isnt an excuse for running into the street.

    The fact is, there are cars. There are buses too. And trucks and a multitude of other vehicles. Regardless of what streets were used for, they are and have been used for vehicular traffic for a century.

    There are rules. People are ticketed when they’re not followed.

    But, we can’t encourage just running into the street. The laws of physics trump the motor vehicle act.

    Every day I cross at oxford and edinburgh. And every day at least a few cars don’t bother stopping, often 10 or more. I have two options. Exercise my right to cross, and hope they stop, or wait for them to stop.

    The people getting hit? About 75% aren’t waiting that minute to ensure their safety. They too, are in such a rush that they are putting seconds ahead of life and limb.

    I’m sure the same arguments were made about horses on the streets, trains, and any other technology. Guess what. Its progress. Kids are taught (and have been for decades) to stop, and look both ways.

    I can definitively say this isn’t happening anymore. I’ve had to jam on the brakes 20 feet from a crosswalk about 8 times in the last two days driving down south st.

    I’ve also never been hit. Because I’m not an idiot and KNOW that being right won’t stop a car. It literally doesn’t matter who’s at fault. A pedestrian walking into the road needs to ensure its clear.

        1. Speed has almost everything to do with it. The slower the car, the more the driver’s reaction time. And, even if there is a collision, it will likely cause less damage than a faster moving car. I’ve long noted that the pedestrian fatalities tend to happen more in Dartmouth– where people are zooming– than on the peninsula, where congestion tends to slow every down, whether they want to or not.

          Someone on Twitter posted a video of the streets in Amsterdam, with cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists all going this way and that, with no real threat to anyone’s safety, because the cars were going maybe 10k at best.

  7. Thanks for letting us know about the 99% Invisible podcast. I’m listening to The Modern Moloch right now. Really good.

  8. Maybe it’s time to hang a little extra shame on pedestrian-hitters, since the current penalties seem insufficient. The Scarlet License Plate?

    1. Public shaming isn’t the answer, the public becomes a mindless mob. However the fine could be doubled and instead of 4 points a 1-6 month forfeiture of driving privileges is appropriate.

  9. Drivers have totally lost to concept of courtesy in this city. When we moved back here in the mid nineties if a pedestrian approached a street pretty much anywhere in the city traffic would stop. When the light at an intersection turned yellow cars going straight would stop allowing left hand turners to clear the intersection. Only a total asshole would run a yellow cutting off a left turner. My brother in law from Ottawa on a visit said he felt like Moses at the red sea when he approached traffic in Halifax; and that if pedestrians walked into traffic in Ottawa the way they did in Halifax they would be dead.

    How times have changed. Now forget about being allowed to complete a left hand turn on yellow, cars are running yellows at a high speed to beat the lights on a regular basis. And I assert it is still the case that only a complete asshole runs yellows cutting off left turners. People turning left try to aggressively hit gaps in traffic as a result and pay no attention to those in crosswalks. Traffic volumes are up in Halifax, transit is a joke and speeds seem to be up as well.

    Unless you have an lights on the top of your car you can wait one light, you can go the speed limit or below and you can respect others on the roads. People need to calm down, slow down and look around. Until we get volumes and speeds down and get drivers to respect others these numbers will continue to climb and it is so unnecessary.