When it comes to road safety, small changes can have big impacts: this is the conclusion of a research project led by Pedestrians Québec and the team of Marie-Soleil Cloutier, professor and director of the Pedestrians and Urban Space Laboratory at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS).

The project “On foot safely: developing the crossing of arteries” made it possible to analyze the effect of interventions aimed at making the crossing of arteries safer for pedestrians. Professor Cloutier, who is also director of the INRS Centre Urbanisation Culture Société, has studied the interactions between people walking and vehicles.

The professor was able to grasp perceptions of various safety issues, such as vehicle speed or motorists’ respect for the right of way. The data examined comes from collections in the form of observations and questionnaires on site, before and after interventions such as the removal of a traffic lane or the addition of a pedestrian shelter in the centre of a wide artery.

“Sometimes, relatively simple interventions can have concrete effects,” said Marie-Soleil Cloutier. “Over the course of the study, we documented an improved sense of security and a reduction in vehicle interactions. The verdict: it is not always necessary to plan major development works to improve cohabitation between the different populations using the road.” 

Helping municipalities rethink their intersections

With the collaboration of the administrations of Montreal, Longueuil, Laval and Gatineau, seven intersections were observed, including four of them where interventions were made to modify the pedestrian crossing. Reading this data, Pedestrians Quebec’s message is clear: cities have the power to act to make their arterial roads more user-friendly and safer.

The project team has also created a series of fact sheets and video clips to present the results of the study and encourage municipalities to review problem areas.

“Year after year, we see that arteries have the highest number of pedestrian deaths in Quebec,” said Sandrine Cabana-Degani, executive director of Pedestrians Quebec. “Faced with this problem, our project aimed to study the existing solutions to make it safer to cross arteries. The results of this research will help equip municipalities that wish to take action. Because our arterial streets also need safety.”


  • According to the analysis of road safety reports in Quebec, between 2015 and 2019, one in three pedestrian deaths occurred on a main artery
  • Before the interventions made during this project, less than 50 per cent of the pedestrians surveyed felt safe at major artery intersections
  • After the interventions:
    • There was a marked improvement in the feeling of not being pressed for time during the crossing
    • The number of pedestrians who found that motorists were driving too fast decreased
    • Pedestrian traffic light compliance increased at intersections with an arterial street
    • There were 50 per cent fewer interactions at intersections, i.e., occurrences where there was two metres or less between vehicle and pedestrian on the roadway