Chilliwack city council chose to defer a decision to install full-stop pedestrian signals at two contentious and dangerous crosswalks on Vedder Road on Tuesday.
Staff recommended—supported by Mayor Sharon Gaetz—that the crosswalks on Vedder at Storey Avenue and Wells Road be upgraded due to safety issues and "frequent resident complaint."
There have been periodic pedestrian-vehicle crashes at the crosswalks, the most recent reported was in January when an elderly woman was struck on Vedder at Storey.
Gaetz said when she used to work at the church office nearby, she "saw near accidents every week" at Storey.
As mayor she said she has been contacted by many concerned parents of kids who attend Sun Hang Do martial arts studio, which is located in the former Forester's Hall on the east side of Vedder at the location of one crosswalk.
Sun Hang Do owner Adam Gibson said not only has he heard close encounters from students, he's nearly been hit twice himself.
"Every time I cross the crosswalk it is always a hairy situation as I have to wait usually a couple minutes for people to actually stop," he told the Times via email. "Then I have to slowly go across, checking each lane to make sure that every lane is coming to a stop. I am a very focused individual from practising martial arts for the past 13 years and I have to be intently focused every single time I cross because people simply do not stop."
City transportation manager Rod Sanderson recommended to council the two locations be upgraded, although a consultant's report suggested that upgrades were not warranted. That consultant's report based the decision on low usage of the intersections, something that could be attributed to just how dangerous they are.
So-called rectangular rapid-flashing beacons (RRFB) were considered as a less expensive alternative, but RRFBs are not yet approved devices for use in Canada.
Sanderson said the "regulatory requirement" to stop at a full-stop pedestrian crossing eliminates doubt and is well understood by all.
But Couns. Jason Lum and Ken Huttema suggested two more full stops on Vedder—which sees 30,000 vehicles pass per day—might not be such a good thing.
"What I'm wondering is what would that do to Vedder, on a major traffic corridor," Lum said, adding that he thought maybe the crosswalk at Storey should be removed given its proximity to the intersection at Knight.
Lum made a motion to defer the matter to be looked at closer by the Transportation Advisory Committee and so that a traffic study could be completed.
"Vedder Road is a main thoroughfare," he said. "If we put in too many crosswalks in, driver fatigue or driver anger [could come if] they can't flow through from one side of town to the other."
But Gibson said the opposite situation is the current reality, and the road is being used like a raceway because of the long stretch with no traffic lights between Spruce and Knight.
"Between Sun Hang Do Martial Arts and the Stolo Nation, there is a lot of people using that crosswalk and a lot of them are small children," Gibson said. "As my office is in the front of our building right next to the crosswalk I hear tires squeech and sqeal every day and every time I hear that I shudder thinking someone is about to get hit."
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