by Alana Bergstrom
Eli Ottenbreit looks both ways, uneasily steps onto Wascana Parkway -- then stops. Cars speed through the pedestrian crosswalk as he tries to make his way to the University of Regina campus. Ottenbreit says he does this twice a day, and the whole experience leaves him uneasy.
“It’s like taking your life into your own hands really, because sometimes people stop and sometimes they don’t. You can get halfway across the street and one lane will stop and the other lane will not,” said Ottenbreit, a third year computer science student.
The busy intersection, crossing Wascana Parkway onto the university campus has long been the subject of complaint among pedestrians, especially U of R students. The four lanes and 70 KM per hour speed limit have some students running scared.
“You hesitate a little bit and wait. Sometimes they slam on their brakes and almost cause an accident,” said Kyle Nadiger, a third year business student.
The City of Regina says it receives complaints about this particular pedestrian crossing every year.
“Quite often around the beginning of September we will hear concerns. We do take those concerns seriously and monitor the situation,” said Karen Gasmo, Regina’s director of transportation services. But, she added, concerns tend to fall off once people get used to using the crosswalk.
Gasmo says the city has inspected the crossing, but a lack of resources has prevented it from investigating the complaints further. She adds that its last pedestrian and vehicle counts, conducted in 2007, did not show a need for an updated crossing.
Today’s pedestrians may disagree.
“I think (it needs) a pedestrian crossing with lights. People stop for the lights but a sign is hard to see,” said Ottenbreit.
Nadiger agrees: “It’s probably a good idea if they put a flashing light or something.”
According to the City of Regina census, the city’s population has increased by more than 30, 000 people since 2007. Enrolment at the U of R has gone up for the second year in a row and is hovering around 12, 000 students.
“We are aware there is an increase in student population but also growing business functions at the university, which is why we are looking into a corridor study,” said Gasmo.
A corridor study would take a closer look at the pedestrian crossing, going beyond simply counting cars and people. However the study won’t start until at least next year, Gasmo said.
For now, she puts the responsibility in the hands of drivers and pedestrians.
“Pedestrians should be cautious, and drivers just have to be more aware. (They) have a responsibility to stop for pedestrians,” she said.