How cities are en­sur­ing road users get seen (and heard)

As dark­ness falls an hour ear­lier across (most of) the coun­try (stay strong, Saskatchewan), road users are on height­ened alert. Here are some of the ways cities and city-dwellers are en­sur­ing peo­ple see each other, espe­cially after the clocks rolled back.

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San Fran­cisco just un­veiled so-called Vi­sion Zero ire trucks, ac­cord­ing to Streets­blog. De­signed along­side pedes­trian and cy­cling ad­vo­cates, the trucks are 25 cm shorter than tra­di­tional ones, come equipped with cam­eras and screens to give driv­ers a 360-view around them, and have re­cessed pan­els to avoid snag­ging peo­ple on hose noz­zles.


To help cy­clists com­mand more of a pres­ence on Mex­ico City streets, de­sign in­terns Thomas Hoogew­erf and Ju­dit Parés de­vel­oped a se­ries of DIY pedal-pow­ered mu­sic boxes. Un­like the shrill DING DING of a bike bell, the in­stru­ments cre­ate “friendly, rhyth­mic sound, cre­at­ing a pleas­ant sound­scape” wher­ever the cy­clist goes. Plans and de­signs for the boxes are avail­able on­line from their de­sign irm, José de la O.


Paint on as­phalt is so 20th cen­tury. A Bri­tish ar­chi­tec­ture irm re­cently un­veiled a cross­walk for the mod­ern era: a sen­sor- illed LED panel that uses ma­chine learn­ing to adapt to di er­ent road users at di er­ent times. A pro­to­type was in­stalled on a Lon­don TV set to test it out. Among the in­no­va­tions: warn­ing lights for pedes­tri­ans buried in their phones, blind spot warn­ings for trucks to watch for cy­clists, and wider walk­ways for busier times of day.


The City of Cal­gary has a plan to in­crease cross­walk vis­i­bil­ity on the cheap. At sites that don’t war­rant $30,000 for lights, the city out it­ted sign posts with $30 plas­tic tubes in re lec­tive colours. The project is go­ing well and city o icials hope to spread the home­grown so­lu­tion to other cities.


Lit­tle buck­ets of lu­o­res­cent hand-held lags adorn more than 150 cross­walks across Hal­i­fax. Crit­ics say they cre­ate a false sense of se­cu­rity, while ad­vo­cates ap­plaud the e ort to pro­mote vis­i­bil­ity. Last spring, city sta rec­om­mended re­mov­ing the lags after a study of 50 in­ter­sec­tions showed that only 8 in 100 walk­ers used them. In­stead, coun­cil voted to col­lect more ro­bust data about cross­walk safety and vis­i­bil­ity. The re­sults are due in De­cem­ber.

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