A West Vancouver citizen says the council hasn’t done anything concrete for pedestrian safety in the community but now must act fast on some key intersections to ensure locals can safely walk around the community. Paul Hundal is calling upon the council to install raised crosswalks at pedestrian crossings so vehicles can slow down and give people an opportunity to cross safely.
A year ago, a woman was killed at 17th and Bellevue trying to cross at the stop sign
Hundal says last summer he raised the safety concerns to council and staff but they fell on deaf ears. Hundal goes for his regular evening walks to the Seawall via John Lawson Park and is often anxious at the behaviour of the drivers. A dismayed Hundal says the traffic doesn’t stop at the stop sign and rather rolls through speed with no regard to pedestrian safety.
“I mentioned that a year before a lady was killed at 17th and Bellevue trying to cross at that stop sign. I had raised this issue at a community meeting put on by the district at the Lawn Bowling club six months before her death. Nothing has been done since to address those concerns even after the death of this local resident,” he says.
Hundal said he specifically asked that raised crosswalks be installed for each crossing into the park along Bellevue, in particular, the north-south crossing at 17th and Bellevue, which is one of the busiest stretch and often has the worst problem with drivers not stopping at the stop sign. He says since then he talked the staff who told him there is a policy in West Vancouver to not use speed bumps on travel lanes and they consider his proposal to be a speed bump.
“I respectfully disagree and ask that raised crosswalks (such as exist in Vancouver and in Park Royal Village) not be considered speed bumps because they would be located where cars are supposed to stop rather than being a speed-control device along a travel lane. Furthermore, a raised crosswalk is more like a ramp than a bump so any concern about damaging suspensions is limited (unless a car goes though the stop sign at high speed).” He says.
Council and staff for years have given plenty of lip service about giving pedestrians a higher priority on roads and putting their safety first but have done nothing about it. A raised crosswalk, Hundal says, would provide a psychological deterrence for drivers from rolling through the stop sign at speed. Seeing the raised crosswalk will encourage drivers to stop at the stop sign but that message isn’t getting through to drivers who pass through the community.
“I am sick of the near-misses and the fact that we can’t step out safely at the stop sign when cars are approaching it because too many drivers approach it without the intention of stopping. I have asked a community liaison police officer about stepping up enforcement at that corner but I have never seen it happen, even after the death, and we walk that crossing almost every day,” he says.
West Vancouver has a specific policy of prohibiting speed bumps or ramps on municipal lanes but the staff is currently reviewing the policy and is supportive of installing raised crosswalks on some roads. That can’t come fast enough for Hundal, who says there are some intersections that need raised crosswalks immediately, such as 17th and Bellevue on all three sides.
“This is a high-priority intersection because of the large number of pedestrians entering and leaving John Lawson Park and the Seawall who cross this intersection. This is the intersection where a lady died trying to cross. If no serious problems arise, it should be expanded to other locations with a similar dynamic of being a side road (as opposed to arterials like Marine Drive) where there is a relatively heavy flow of pedestrian crossings. Monitoring can be done to identify where crossing risks to pedestrians appear high,” he says.
While Hundal wants crosswalks at the intersections, another citizen narrated a horrible incident that has left her shaken and wondering about the poor state of crosswalk infrastructure in West Vancouver. A citizen tripped on a raised crack on crosswalk on 17th street and Bellevue, hurt her ankle and then went from pillar to post trying to get some action from West Vancouver.
“I have had great difficulty in trying to get answers and actions from the District of West Vancouver about these cracks so no one else is hurt. I strongly feel that the cracks where I fell were not properly maintained and there were many others like these,” she says.
The citizen was utterly surprised to know from the insurance adjustor the district sent that West Vancouver isn’t liable for any injury simply because there was no history of any complaints or issues at the crosswalk. She was also surprised to learn that the district would investigate complaints but won’t do any repairs. She was also told that she would have to fill a Freedom of Information form if she wanted to know if the north and west crosswalks at 16th and Bellevue would be considered for repairs.
“I am now asking you to please look into this situation and consider that DWV change their policy in regard to sidewalks and road inspections to be proactive to protect people rather than be reactionary. Does someone have to be hurt before cracks are ground down? I am not asking for any expense or any admission of liability, just that at least the two crosswalks at 16th and Bellevue be looked at,” she says.