Seniors attending Mayor Watson's Seniors Summit voiced their concerns over the timed crosswalks after explaining how their decreased mobility, slower stride and use of walkers made it impossible for them to safely traverse city intersections in the 7-9 second time frame current crosswalk signals allowed. "I am 88 and I just don't move like I used to." remarked Nelly Garwood, who raised the issue at the open forum yesterday. "I get extremely stressed out trying to shuffle across the street with my walker when I look up and see I only have 7 seconds to make it all the way across Carling Avenue." Garwood explained. Garwood joined approximately 9 other seniors who voiced similar concerns to the Mayor and his councillors during the Senior Summit, requesting the city extend the countdown period on the traffic signals in areas frequented by senior citizens. "I need at least 60 seconds to make it across Richmond Road before those nutjobs in their fancy SUVs start running me down." an emotional Herb Fenwick commented during the open forum.
In a swift and immediate response, Mayor Jim Watson ordered all traffic signals to extend their countdown times, resulting in some intersections having a 5 minute countdown for pedestrians. This has irked some motorists who are now waiting up to 10 minutes at already congested intersections. "I feel for the elderly, but now I am waiting about 10 minutes to turn left on Holland." replied a concerned motorist after experiencing the new timed crosswalk signals. Mayor Watson hailed the initiative and hopes Ottawa motorists will be patient and respect the slowly moving senior citizen pedestrians. "I think these new extended time crosswalks are great, and I look forward to using them myself when I walk the streets." Mayor Watson remarked. Other initiatives that will soon apply as a result of the Senior Summit Mayor Watson hosted will include enlarged parking spaces in city parking lots and streets to accommodate the huge vehicles and poor eyesight of elderly drivers, an elimination of all curbs on streets surrounding Carlingwood Mall and the creation of "FogieFest" a city endorsed festival for the aged next summer.