Pedestrians have about 10 seconds to cross the intersection. Photo: Rame Abdulkader/Fulcrum
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Too many people and too little time to cross such a busy street

The first week of university is always an exhilarating time, and many new students are still trying to find their way around campus.

As a student living in residence, walking is my main form of transportation. The large swarms of people heading towards the main campus in the morning prove walking is a popular way to get to school for many. It helps work some exercise into your day and it’s a whole lot more efficient than wasting fuel by driving short distances.  

And while not all drivers (very few, I’d say) love pedestrians and vice-versa, there’s a frustrating place on the edge of the University of Ottawa campus that we can all agree is terrible for all parties involved: the King Edward Avenue and Templeton Street intersection.

Located in close proximity to the Minto Sports Complex and the Advanced Research Complex, King Edward and Templeton is the first intersection that greets drivers when merging off of Highway 417, as well as Lees Avenue. It’s a reasonably busy street, especially during rush hour, crucial not only for getting vehicles on and off of the highway, but also for leading vehicles into Ottawa’s downtown core as well.

The intersection is also located on the edge of Ottawa’s Sandy Hill, two of the U of O’s residences (Henderson and 45 Mann), a bus shelter and a public school. This intersection is regularly used and has a large amount of pedestrian traffic to accommodate. 

But unfortunately for pedestrians, the crossing signal only allows people about 10 seconds to cross the road, which is not just inconvenient but also unrealistic and infuriating.

And the intersection isn’t just angering, it also puts pedestrians at risk of being involved in an accident. People with disabilities, seniors with physical limitations, or those that just need some extra time to make their way across the road just aren’t given enough crossing time. 

All kids are told that it’s “dangerous to run across the road,” as it can more likely result in harming yourself rather than getting to your destination quicker; this is the same case for people with disabilities or other limitations. Forcing them to push their physical limits in order to cross the street in time is dangerous and shouldn’t be the case for anyone.

We also cannot leave drivers entirely out of this equation. There isn’t much room on the road for multiple vehicles at a time — most of which are making left-hand turns, leaving a long line of cars stretching down Templeton Street. Drivers may attempt dangerous turns under the pressure of the quick-to-change stoplight, which also adds to the risks facing pedestrians. 

But let’s be clear: the main issue at hand is pedestrian safety. Ten seconds isn’t enough time for anyone to cross the street in dry and sunny conditions. Imagine how much worse it will become when the first snowfall occurs, which is sooner rather than later in our city. The wet roads and ice-covered sidewalks will make walking even more dangerous for pedestrians.

Both the University and the city need to take into account the conflicts that surround this intersection and collaborate on safer resolutions for the streets. Extending the crossing time, endorsing alternate routes for drivers merging off of the highway or even launching a study of the intersection are just a few suggestions.

As pedestrians, we aren’t asking for a lot from the King Edward Avenue and Templeton Street intersection — maybe just a bit more of its time.