Final pedestrian sound signal installed

As a “coo-coo” sound rang out over the noise of traffic, the final pedestrian sound signal was installed last week at a street corner in River Heights, during an event hosted by the City of Winnipeg.

Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface), chairperson of the standing policy committee on infrastructure renewal and public works, and Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) were on hand on Sept. 24 at the corner of Stafford Street and Kingsway Avenue to announce the successful implementation of audible pedestrian signals at all signalized intersections throughout the city.

“I wanted to say, I never thought I’d see the day. I thought the plan was going to be... and I’d be dead before it was completed,” Eadie said with a laugh.

Audible pedestrian signals communicate traffic signal timing information to pedestrians using non-visual, audible tones. The City had originally anticipated completing the installation of the audible pedestrian signals at all signalized intersections by the end of 2021.

“The installation of the 670 signalized intersections was made a priority and completed over a year ahead of schedule,” Allard said, adding it’s a huge achievement to improve accessibility for Winnipeggers at all intersections with traffic signals. “With the addition of audible pedestrian signals, everyone can now safely navigate these intersections with the help of auditory cues to provide guidance indicating when it’s safe to cross the street.”

For those not familiar with the sounds made by the signals, the “coo-coo” typically indicates it’s safe to cross in a north-south direction. The signals also make chirping, ticking and tocking sounds.

The first audible signal in Winnipeg was installed in 1953 at Portage and Sherburn by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

“I am pleased that this project is finally completed as it will improve accessibility and safety for all of our citizens,” Eadie said. “I want to thank all those who have been involved over the years championing this worthy effort for the benefit of all Winnipeggers regardless of what part of the city they live in. We prioritized this project because we understood and recognized the importance of safety and accessibility for all Winnipeggers.”

The City began installing audible pedestrian signals at signalized intersections throughout the city in 1996 under then-mayor Glen Murray.

“We who are blind fought for this in the mid-1990s, to convince the city to move ahead, to install audible signals so we knew when it was our turn to cross at all the intersections, no matter where you work, live, play or go to school,” Eadie said.