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Community Safety

Pedestrian safety

Remember to “Walk like your life depends on it!” and be aware of your surroundings!

The City of Ottawa has an extensive program to make streets safer for pedestrians that includes measures such as:

Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS)

Accessible pedestrian signals (APS), formerly known as audible pedestrian signals, are devices that use audible, tactile, vibrotactile and visible methods to provide information that is accessible to all pedestrians, including people who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind.

Pedestrian Countdown Signal

The pedestrian countdown signal during the flashing “Don’t Walk” interval offers pedestrians more information on how much time they have to safely cross the intersection. Research has shown that countdown signals lead to fewer pedestrian-car collisions at intersections by providing pedestrians clearer information on when the lights will change. The installation of the pedestrian countdown signal will be done when a new traffic control signal or pedestrian signal is being installed, when an existing traffic control signal or pedestrian signal is being rebuilt as part of a road construction project, or through the Pedestrian Countdown Signal Installation Program. There are currently over 850 intersections across the city equipped with pedestrian countdown signals.

The Pedestrian Plan

The City produces a comprehensive Pedestrian Plan as part of the Transportation Master Plan to better integrate pedestrian travel into the transportation system.

School Zone Traffic Safety Program

Many children are walking and biking to school on our roads. However, younger children often lack the skills to negotiate traffic safely. Help them to walk - safely to school - by stressing important safety rules.

Pedestrian Crossovers

What is a Pedestrian Crossover?

Pedestrian Crossovers are designated areas that allow pedestrians to safely cross the road, where vehicles must yield to pedestrians when crossing. Pedestrian Crossovers are identified by specific signs and pavement markings. In some cases, but not always, they may also have pedestrian activated flashing beacons.

Street sign specific to Pedestrian Crossovers, indicating to stop for pedestrians

At Pedestrian Crossovers equipped with flashing beacons, pedestrians may push a button to make the beacon flash to enhance driver’s awareness that they will be crossing.  

It is the responsibility of both drivers and pedestrians to understand and follow the rules at Pedestrian Crossovers.

Infographic – all road users

Visit our YouTube Page and click “show more” for the descriptive video text.

Pedestrian Crossover Locations

Pedestrian Crossovers will be installed on low speed, low to medium volume roads, and at most roundabouts.

Existing locations are available on open data in both a list and map format.

Responsibilities of Pedestrians

  • Make an indication that you want to cross and ensure drivers see you before you cross. 
  • Cross only when traffic has come to a complete stop and it is safe to do so.
  • Refer to “Roundabouts and Median Divided Roads” Section below for more details at these locations.

Infographic – pedestrians and cyclists 

Responsibilities of Drivers

  • Watch for and prepare to stop at Pedestrian Crossovers.
  • Wait until the pedestrian has completely crossed the road (curb to curb) before proceeding.
  • Vehicles must not pass any other vehicle within 30 metres prior to a Pedestrian Crossover.
  • Refer to “Roundabouts and Median Divided Roads” Section below for more details at these locations.

Infographic – drivers and cyclists 

Responsibilities of Cyclists

  •  When operating as a motor vehicle, cyclists will face the same responsibilities and fines as drivers – the new law requires cyclists to stop and yield the whole roadway to  pedestrians.
  •  When crossing with pedestrians, follow rules for pedestrians: dismount and walk your bike across the road.
  • Refer to “Roundabouts and Median Divided Roads” Section below for more details at these locations.

Infographic – drivers and cyclists 
Infographic – pedestrians and cyclists 

Roundabouts and Median Divided Roads

Pedestrian Crossovers have been installed at most roundabouts in Ottawa. Where the PXO sign is installed, pedestrians have the right of way over vehicles.

At roundabouts and roads with center medians, marked pedestrian crossovers are treated as two stage crossings with the median or splitter island providing a pedestrian refuge. For vehicles passing through a Pedestrian Crossover at these locations the driver may proceed once the pedestrian has fully crossed their lane of traffic (i.e. curb to median). They do not have to wait for the pedestrian to cross the whole roadway.

Infographic – roundabout

Pedestrian Crossover VS Pedestrian Crosswalk

Pedestrian Crossovers are a type of traffic control, which are devices that regulate the movement of traffic. Other traffic control types include Stop signs, Yield signs and traffic control signals. All types of traffic controls have legal requirements for road users and are identified in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. Where there is such a traffic control device, the term crosswalk refers to the painted markings on the road. It is typical for all controlled crossings to have a crosswalk. Forms of crosswalks are typically found at intersections, midblock locations, roundabouts and channelized right turns.

Fines

Drivers and cyclists will be fined up to $1000 with 4 demerit points for failing to yield for pedestrians at pedestrian crossovers.

Cyclists can be fined $85 for failing to dismount and walk their bicycle when crossing a pedestrian crossover.

Pedestrians can be fine $35 for leaving the curb or other place of safety at a pedestrian crossover and walking, running or moving into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impracticable for the driver of the vehicle to stop safely.

New Location Requests

Pedestrian Crossovers are managed by the Transportation Services Department. Requests for Pedestrian Crossovers are directed to Traffic Services staff for review and consideration. The review consists of an assessment of the location through a warrant process established by the Ministry of Transportation.

Please submit requests for new Pedestrian Crossover locations, or feedback on existing locations by contacting 3-1-1 (TTY 613-580-2401).

We want to hear from you

Please provide your feedback on the Pedestrian Crossover Pilot Program by contacting 3-1-1 (TTY 613-580-2401) or pedestriancrossover@ottawa.ca

Motorcycle Safety

In Ottawa from 2009-2013 people who ride motorcycles were involved in 790 collisions leading to 12 fatalities and 542 injuries on Ottawa streets.  

People who ride motorcycles are considered vulnerable road users for the following reasons:

  • Motorcyclists have on two points of contact on the road and require great skill, balance and diligence to prevent collisions. 
  • Motorcyclist are small so they are difficult to see and gauging their speed and distance

The Ottawa Safety Council offers motorcycle training for all skill levels. Visit www.ottawasafetycouncil.ca for more information.

Every May, the motorcycle community of Ottawa and SRO launches “Keep an Eye Out for Motorcycle” campaign. 

Tips for Motorist 

  • Keep a safe distance when following a motorcycle - at least two seconds
  • Motorcycles use a full lane - treat them like other vehicles
  • Check your mirrors and blind spots frequently, especially before changing lanes -a motorcycle is small enough to be entirely hidden within your blind spot
  • Pay special attention at intersections, where almost 50% of motorcycle collisions occur

Tips for Motorcyclists

  • Keep a safe distance around you and maintain proper lane position
  • Check your mirrors and blind spots frequently - be alert for all other traffic, particularly at intersections
  • Be seen! Wear bright colours and reflective clothing, and ride with your lights on
  • Be safe! Always wear an approved motorcycle helmet and protective gear when riding

Roundabouts

Learn about roundabouts in the City of Ottawa.  

Learn More

School zone traffic safety

For parents

Many children are walking and biking to school on our roads. However, younger children often lack the skills to negotiate traffic safely. Always remind your children to:

  • Walk on available sidewalks
  • Always cross at intersections

When crossing intersections without signals or crossing guards, children should:

  • Stop before stepping into road
  • Increase visibility and indicate crossing intention
  • Look in all directions
  • Listen for traffic
  • Cross only when the road is clear
  • Walk directly across road - do not run or cycle
  • Use the buddy system if possible

When crossing intersections with signals, children should:

  • Push button (where one exists)
  • Wait for pedestrian walk signal
  • Increase visibility and indicate crossing intention
  • Look and listen for traffic
  • Walk carefully, watching for turning motorists

When crossing with the assistance of adult crossing guards and student crossing patrols, children should cross under their direction.

Drivers

Back to school means more children walking and biking on our roads. Because younger children often have limited experience with traffic, and lack the skills to negotiate traffic safely, motorists need to take special care while driving. Help our children get to school safely by following these important safety rules:

  • Reduce speed in schools zones
  • Look for school zone signage
  • Be ready to stop at all times: children do not always notice oncoming traffic
  • Always try to make eye contact with children wanting to cross the road
  • Be patient and wait for children to complete their crossing before proceeding
  • Obey all yield, stop and traffic signal controls. It's the law
  • Stop when a STOP paddle is held up by a crossing guard

School zones and crossings

School Zone

The City will replace existing blue-and-white school zones signage with new, highly visible, reflective yellow school zone signs. This signage serves to remind motorists of the special care they need to take while travelling through a school zone. Many of the traffic control signals in these zones are equipped with pedestrian push buttons. Follow these instructions to ensure a safe crossing:

  • Push the button
  • Wait for white walking pedestrian symbol to appear
  • Start to cross only while white walking pedestrian symbol is displayed
  • Check in all directions for oncoming traffic before stepping off the curb
  • Continue crossing if the orange hand signal begins to flash while walking; there is still enough time for you to complete a crossing to the other side at a normal walking speed
  • Yield the right of way to school children trying to cross at intersections controlled by stop signs
  • Do not creep into any intersection

Remember to never begin crossing on a flashing or solid orange hand; there may not be enough time to cross safely.

Community Safety Zone

The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) provides a municipality the authority to designate a part of a roadway under their jurisdiction as a Community Safety Zone (CSZ). As per the HTA, the official designation of a segment of roadway as a CSZ requires the enactment of a municipal by-law which includes the designated area and the erection of regulatory signs on the designated part of the roadway.

Once a CSZ is designated and established, the HTA provides that any person convicted of specific offences described in the HTA is liable to increased fines if it is committed while in a CSZ. For example, fines for speeding in a CSZ will be doubled for each kilometre-per-hour driven over the speed limit. Similarly, fines for careless driving for contraventions of other rules of the road, including traffic signal officences, will also be doubled.

Regulatory, bilingual CSZ signs are posted along the affected segments of a roadway to designate both the beginning and the end of a zone. The rules of the road do not change within the zone; only the penalties for violations are increased.

Samples of the CSZ Begins and Ends signs are shown below:

Regulatory CSZ Begins Sign
Figure 1 - Image of Regulatory CSZ Begins Sign

Regulatory CSZ Ends Sign
Figure 2 - Image of Regulatory CSZ Ends

In Ottawa, Community Safety Zones are installed in proximity to school areas to enhance the safety of children walking or cycling, to and from school. Existing CSZ in Ottawa are identified in the City’s Community Safety Zone By-law.

Winter driving safety

When driving in the winter, it is a good idea to prepare an emergency car kit and to follow some basic tips.

For additional information about winter driving safety please visit: http://www.ottawapolice.ca/en/safety-and-crime-prevention/Winter-Driving.asp

Emergency kit

  • Cellphone
  • Phone list of friends, family, doctors, neighbours and towing companies
  • Flashlights and spare batteries
  • Candles and all-weather matches
  • Windshield scraper
  • Blankets, booster cables and road flares
  • Bag of sand
  • Shovel
  • High-energy bars
  • Extra set of boots and socks
  • First aid kit and fire extinguisher
  • Lock de-icer (put one in the car and carry one with you)
  • Neon-coloured towel or sheet that can be used to attract attention
  • Current maps

Tips

Do
  • Get weather and road condition reports.
  • Wait for the weather to improve if conditions are expected to be extreme.
  • Keep your vehicle in top mechanical condition.
  • Keep the gas tank filled. This prevents moisture and adds weight to a vehicle, making it more stable in slippery conditions.
  • Keep a bag of sand in the car, which adds weight and can be used for traction if your vehicle gets stuck.
  • When making a long trip, tell someone your itinerary, keep to the planned route, estimate your arrival time and alert a responsible person to get help if you fail to arrive within an hour of this time.
  • In distress, flash your headlights and brake lights.
  • In a snowstorm, drive in a convoy if possible and keep a good distance between vehicles and keep the wheels of your vehicle in the path of the vehicle in front of you.
  • If the car is idling, keep the window open slightly to prevent carbon monoxide build-up.
  • Take a winter/defensive driving course.
  • Take a CPR and first aid course.
  • Know how to change a tire, and check and add oil and other fluids.
  • Inspect tires and windshield wiper blades and have the exhaust system inspected once a year.
  • Look out for deer, snow plows and salt/sand trucks.
  • Clear all windows and exterior mirrors of snow and ice.
Don’t
  • Idle a vehicle in a garage or near windows and doors, as carbon monoxide can seep into the house.
  • Leave your vehicle if you are in an accident involving power lines. Do alert the local power company immediately.
  • Leave the vehicle running if you smell gas after a collision. Do notify the nearest fire department.
  • Drink and drive