Thursday, September 20, 2007

Working Men Aid Crosswalk Safety in Mississauga

On this very fine last day of summer, I was walking east along Lakeshore Road in Port Credit. At Mississauga Road, I couldn't help notice that the crosswalk positively gleamed in the bright sunshine. It almost hurt to look at it. It was the whitest crosswalk I had ever seen. Obviously, it had been freshly re-painted and it looked wonderful. This is a busy intersection and it would do a lot to increase the safety for pedestrians here. I continued walking and soon found the working men responsible for the newly painted crosswalks, and stopped to watch and see how they did it.

The men first measured and marked the width with spray paint at both ends of the crosswalk, then placed a thin chain flat on the street between the opposing curbs, and ran a thin line of spray paint to mark it. At that point I asked one of them how they planned to paint the grid (after I told them I was a big fan of their work at Mississauga Road). Did they perhaps use a stencil? No - they measured the grid themselves to customize it according to street width.

Two men continued marking out the crosswalks on both sides of Lakeshore Road (just west of the lighthouse in Port Credit), finishing with laying metal strips crosswise to act as a straight edge for the stripes. Men working in the back of the truck were mixing a bucket of paint. Then they began to fill in the stripes. In the picture above, a metal rectangle with no bottom is laid on the street and filled with plasticized white paint. It's then pulled across the width to 'paint' in the stripes. The paint has to be applied in dry and fairly warm weather, and dries in about 10 minutes, tops. To give the crosswalk additional safety and visibility, the freshly painted stripes are immediately sprinkled with a generous amount of glass beads. The beads adhere to the wet paint and are set fast. (The man in the upper left corner of the picture is scattering the glass beads.) These beads are recycled from broken windshields. Cool, eh?

Here is a closer look at the stripe. Notice the metal strip guide in the lower right. (Sorry about my shadow -- there was a lot of traffic just a few feet in any direction, so I had to watch out. Drivers intent on getting into the Starbucks on this corner for their caffeine fix are not to be trusted!)

Here's another view of the newly painted crosswalk. The work men painted one lane on one side of Lakeshore, then crossed over and painted one lane on the other side of Lakeshore. By alternating and blocking off the new painted lane, the wet paint wouldn't be ruined by traffic.

As I walked back to Mississauga Road and was waiting to cross, I looked down. Sure enough, some passing cyclist had left a perfect tire print gouged into what must have then been wet paint. It had left a mark in the plastic paint and glass beads mixture just as if it had been fresh cement. The paint apparently lasts for 5-10 years before it needs re-painting, so that bike tire impression will last a long time.

What, you may well ask, does any of this have to do with travel? Well, I have seen a lot of this style of zebra striping crosswalk in other cities around the world -- Australia and Hong Kong come to mind -- but I can't recall seeing many in Canada. Nice to know that my 'home and native land' is getting with the safety program when it comes to crosswalks!