Running reds and amber light durations / by Greg Gallinger

Buried within this Winnipeg Free Press article about photo radar at intersections is the mention of Winnipeg's shorter than average amber lights.

The best piece of journalism in the Free Press' story is actually in the comments section (much to the dismay of this writer who has not been shy to voice his distaste for comments on news sites).

Todd Dube:1

The City of Winnipeg is the only city in Canada that does not adhere to the formula for determining minimum, safe amber times. Winnipeggers "run" red lights at our 80kph camera intersections at a rate of 600% more than the other camera intersections - for the simple reason that those ambers should be 5.5 seconds and not 4 seconds. That is not only profitable but dangerous. The increase in collisions is due to the unnecessary crisis presented to drivers due to the short amber itself. Winnipeggers must read the facts to learn that our true safety has been traded for profit.

As a pedestrian I witness drivers speeding through amber lights and running reds on a daily basis. The southbound lane of McMillan / Corydon Ave. at Osborne St. is one of the worst intersections I've seen. Stand there for five minutes and you'll likely witness more than one car blow through the red.

Frankly I'm shocked their haven't been more accidents involving pedestrians who started crossing when the pedestrian light came on without first checking to make sure there wasn't a car still barreling through the intersection. I personally have become accustomed to waiting a couple seconds after the light to start crossing, even still I've had several close calls where speeding vehicles have disregarded the already red light.

I'm not sure if it's actually as nefarious as some City Hall plot to increase profits, but it is another example of the City's disregard for pedestrian safety.

UPDATE: The City published a report a year ago on March 8th, 2011 that states

Today, the Public Service recommends maintaining the current practice of having four seconds of amber light time and adopting a formula to calculate the all-red light time, as this provides a safer scenario than having a longer amber light time.
They go on to reference research from the State of Georgia legislation. Why are decisions being made based on data from a foreign State, especially one that is geographically different than Manitoba?

1 It should be noted that Todd Dube is no stranger to this issue, he runs the site WiseUp Winnipeg which is dedicated to "publicly expose the deception within the photo enforcement program and to draw attention to Winnipeg’s traffic infrastructure inadequacies (including amber times, speed limits and signage) that are being deliberately exploited by the program to generate maximum “violations” from otherwise safe driving behaviours."