Geese, ganders and Blyth crosswalks - Denny Scott editorial
Before I get too far into this, I’m completely in favour of the downtown Blyth crosswalk proposed by Huron County. It’s an idea that is well overdue and I’m glad it’s something we should see by the end of this year.
I’m glad that Huron County Council approved it and I’m glad the North Huron staff is working with county staff to make the change a reality. However, I have to admit I’m a bit puzzled by the decision, specifically when compared with the decisions Huron County Council and staff have made regarding the intersection of County Roads 4 and 25 at the south end of the village.
While this argument seems to have been left by the wayside for a number of years now, (and rightfully so) the Blyth Business Improvement Area (BIA) was once told by Huron County staff that there simply weren’t enough fatal collisions at the intersection to justify investing in a solution at the intersection.
Despite, over my nearly nine-and-a-half years at The Citizen, multiple collisions at the intersection every year, Huron County staff held fast to the belief (and recommendation) that guidelines didn’t justify changing the intersection. So the puzzling factor here is that there is a need for a pedestrian crossing in downtown Blyth, but not the need for any kind of traffic control measures at the intersection of County Roads 4 and 25. I say this not because of personal interest, (full disclosure, I live mere metres from that intersection) but because I’m curious about the need for one and not the other. During the North Huron Council presentation regarding the crosswalk, Huron County Director of Public Works Mike Hausser explained that studies had been undertaken to review the need for the crosswalk.
So my question is, how can the traffic justify the need for a crosswalk downtown, but not some kind of traffic control at the south end of the village? With the exception of Dinsley Street, the majority of through traffic heading north and south on County Road 4 (in my experience) enters the village on the road and leaves it on the same road.
There’s also the fact that, in nine-and-a-half years, I haven’t responded to a single collision in Blyth involving a pedestrian, but I’ve seen many horrific scenes at the intersection of County Road 4 and 25. I’ve seen pets perish and people maimed, I’ve seen people’s livelihood and contents spread across the road. Just in case anyone is misinterpreting me here, I’m not echoing the words of county staff and saying there needs to be collisions to justify a crossing, I’m just curious as to why there is a double standard. Again, I’m happy the crosswalk is coming.
As I mentioned during a recent Blyth Business Improvement Area (BIA) meeting, my editor Shawn and I routinely help people cross the road when we’re going to get coffee, whether that’s due to them being differently-abled or a little slower moving. One needs look no further than Blyth’s own Julie Sawchuk, a Rick Hansen Ambassador (that means she knows her stuff when it comes to accessibility) and her review of downtown Blyth’s accessibility to know it’s a necessity. Also, as a father who finds himself darting across the road with a stroller, I’m all for the crosswalk.
So, to reiterate, the crosswalk is a great thing. I’m happy it's coming. I just find it extremely puzzling that the traffic on County Road 4 necessitates a crosswalk but doesn’t necessitate a change in traffic control at the south end of the village, especially given the significant development that has occurred there over the past several years (and the pedestrian traffic that causes). Apparently what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander.
Regardless, I imagine most people in Blyth will be happy to see the change, even if it means waiting at a crosswalk every once in awhile and losing a couple of parking spots.