Kamloops, B.C. – Audible pedestrian signals have now been activated at each intersection on Columbia Street between 3rd Avenue and 6th Avenue. These signals assist visually-impaired pedestrians in crossing at locations when the walk signal is on, through a voice activated message.
As part of the 2015 Columbia Street Widening project, audible pedestrian signals were installed on Columbia Street at the intersections of 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th avenues. At the completion of the project not all of the audible signals were immediately activated due to safety concerns regarding visually-impaired pedestrian safety at the intersections that include the advanced left-turn phase. The concern raised was that pedestrians waiting to cross at an intersection may hear the audible signal on the opposite side of the road and misinterpret which audible signal is on.
To address this concern, prior to activating the audible signals, the City consulted with the City’s Traffic Advisory Committee, the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, the Canadian Institute of the Blind, and the White Cane Club, in addition to conducting several on-site tests with visually-impaired pedestrians at different times of the day to determine safe signal speaker volumes. The City also consulted with nine other municipalities in British Columbia that utilize audible pedestrian signals at locations with advanced left-turn phases.
“Independence is something that is very important to us all and certainly means different things for different people. I have been blind for 36 years and traveling independently is a very major piece of my day-to-day activities”, says Todd Harding, retired Chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities. “Audible traffic signals play a huge role in safe, independent travel for blind and visually-impaired people. The sense of safety and confidence that one gets when you know the light is in your favour is really hard to describe.”