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Comparing What Counts as Acceptable Delay for Pedestrians and Motorists

2:48 PM EST on February 8, 2016

This video, from the Ontario-based advocacy group Sudbury Moves, puts in perspective how patient we ask people to be at pedestrian crossings.

Think it's no big deal to wait 90 seconds to cross the street? Well, people don't expect to wait that long at the drive-through. In the time it takes to wait for a walk signal, two cars full of passengers are able to order and get their food from this Tim Horton's. (To me it looks like it may be three cars, but I'll accept the filmmakers' accounting.)

The video is boring, just like waiting at the light is boring and frustrating. But it's a strong comment on how transportation systems prioritize motorists over pedestrians. And the stakes are pretty high, since the pedestrian signal is so inconvenient (in addition to making people wait, it's only activated if someone pushes a button) that a lot of people disregard it.

Sudbury Moves produced another video explaining why this particular intersection is broken. After a motorist struck a person crossing the street, police fined the pedestrian $50 for crossing against the light.

If you consider the conditions, it's just not easy to cross safely at this intersection -- a predictable result of planning for cars and not for people.

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