I’m a member of New Westminster’s Advisory Committee for Transit, Bicycles and Pedestrians (aka ACTBiPed), and we had our first meeting of the year on February 2017. Since they’re open to the public and only one member of the public routinely attends (the always awesome Mary Wilson), I’ve decided to post a little report after each meeting outlining the things that we do and learn in these meetings to help shed some light on the City’s efforts to make sustainable modes of transportation safer and more appealing.
Because last night was the first one of the year, we had to deal with the administrivia first: Oath of Office, don’t be a jerk, that sort of thing. Did you know that as a member of an advisory committee I’m not allowed to take bribes? Shocking, I know!
The first proper committee work we did was to receive and endorse the 2017 ACTBiPed Transportation Work Plan, which gives a summary of the things that the Transportation Section of the City is planning on bringing to the committee in 2017 for our consideration. Our work is largely guided by the City’s Master Transportation Plan, which has the following four targets to achieve before 2041:
- Increase sustainable transportation such that the proportion of trips by sustainable modes will be 40% by 2021, 50% by 2031, and 60% by 2041;
- No additional increase in regional through traffic;
- Reduce distance driving from 10km per person per day to 6.5km per person per day;
- Increase safety so that there will be no traffic-related fatalities or serious injuries most years.
Since we’re concerned with sustainable modes of transportation (transit, cycling, and walking) a lot of what the city is planning to hit targets 1, 3 and 4 fall under ACTBiPed’s remit. In 2017, some of the areas they’re planning on bringing to us include:
- improvements to the Rotary Crosstown Greenway;
- Neighbourhood Transportation Plans for Queensborough and Downtown, with focus on improvements to neighbourhood safety and livability;
- “Quick wins” in Connaught Heights;
- A Quayside-To-Queensborough pilot ferry service;
- Speed limit reductions to 30km/h on greenways and streets that do not allow cycling on sidewalks; and
- Design of the Braid section of the Brunette-Fraser Regional Greenway.
We endorsed this work plan, and I’m looking forward to seeing more details on a number of these items.
We then received a report from Engineering Services about the 2017 Pedestrian Crossing Improvement Program. The first thing to note about this is that the budget of $250,000 for this program has not yet been approved by council, so it’s subject to change.
Engineering Services has identified 9 locations in the city that would benefit from some sort of improvements to make crossing the street safer for pedestrians. The procedure to identify these locations is a little complicated, involving vehicle traffic counts, pedestrian traffic counts, vehicle speeds, distance from another control device, number of collisions, and the demographics of pedestrians in the area (is it on a Safe Route to School, are there a significant number of vulnerable pedestrians such as seniors or people with disabilities, and so on). They also use these statistics to determine what kind of improvements are warranted — it makes no sense to put a pedestrian activated traffic signal on a quiet street with very few pedestrians.
Punching in all of the numbers and doing some analysis, Engineering Services came up with these proposed improvements:
- Upgrade street lighting to LED at Seventh Street at Belmont Street;
- Upgrade street lighting to LED at Richmond Street at Miner Street;
- Upgrade street lighting to LED at Sixth Avenue at the New Westminster Public Library;
- Upgrade street lighting to LED and consider improving curb ramps at Sixth Street at Blackford Street;
- Install overhead flashing beacons and lights at Sixth Avenue at Fourteenth Street;
- Install overhead flashing beacons and lights at Eighth Avenue at Fourth Street;
- Install side-mounted flashing beacons at Sixth Avenue at Ninth Street;
- Install side-mounted flashing beacons and consider curb extensions at Eighth Street at Third Avenue;
- Install a curb extension, a zebra crossing and pedestrian crossing signs at Carnarvon Street at Lorne Street.
There are another two that Engineering Services hopes to improve in 2018:
- Install side-mounted flashing beacons at Sixth Avenue at Eleventh Street;
- Install pedestrian-activated traffic signal and consider improvements to shopping center parking lot at Royal Avenue at Eleventh Street.
Judging from the discussion around the table, the last one is going to be a little controversial. It’s fairly close to the pedestrian crossing at Royal Avenue and Stewardson Way, and there isn’t a lot of pedestrian traffic at Royal and Eleventh. It has a lot of vehicle traffic, and that vehicle traffic is moving quickly (67.5km/h in a 50km/h zone). But importantly, of all the crossings analyzed this crossing had the second-highest number of collisions, and even worse, it had a pedestrian collision. Pedestrians surveyed say they do not feel safe at the Royal/Stewardson crossing, and this crossing would make pedestrians feel and be safer crossing Royal at Eleventh.
We endorsed the 2017 Pedestrian Crossing Improvement Program, and since that was the last item on the agenda, we wrapped up the meeting.