Walter van Halst says he used to live on a quiet residential street, but now his road has morphed into a raceway.
He says the velocity at which cars streak down his street terrifies him.
“Someone is going to get hurt or killed,” he says. “(The City) can ignore this situation if they want, but that will only worsen the outcome.”
Van Halst lives on 63rd Avenue, between 166th and 168th Streets in Cloverdale. He says the City plans to put in a roundabout at the intersection of 63rd and 166th.
Although the Lord Tweedsmuir teacher likes that plan, he says it still won’t solve the safety problems on 63rd.
“Once eastbound traffic has cleared the (166th Street) intersection,” explains van Halst, “(traffic) speeds up along 63rd Ave. [and] a new traffic circle will be completely ineffective.”
He says east- and west-bound cars still fly down the street between 166th Street (where the new traffic circle will be built) and 168th Street.
“Peak speed occurs long before they approach either intersection.”
— Cloverdale Reporter (@CloverdaleNews) February 21, 2020
There are a lot of children and residents on the street, adds van Halst. He thinks speed bumps should be installed to increase safety for his neighbours.
According to van Halst, the Transportation Department told him 63rd Avenue is designated as a collector road and therefore cannot have speed bumps installed as it slows down emergency vehicle response times.
Jamie Boan, Transportation Manager for the City of Surrey, confirmed the traffic circle for the intersection at 166th Street has been funded and that construction is expected to begin this summer.
He says there is no plan for another traffic circle to go in down the road to the east at 167a Street, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen at some point in the future.
“If another traffic circle is still needed, that is something we would look at later.”
Boan explains that collector roads — routes that can be anywhere from about 200 to 400 metres in from arterial roads (main thoroughfares) — cannot have speed bumps installed on them as it runs counter to the City’s policy.
“When the City first instituted traffic calming several years ago, (speed bumps) had a negative impact on emergency services,” notes Boan.
“Mainly fire services said (speed bumps) had a big impact on their ability to meet time requirements. They estimated it added up to about 10 seconds for every (speed bump) put in.”
Boan also says all of the collector routes are potential bus routes and transit operators have big concerns about the impact speed bumps have on passengers.
Boan thinks traffic circles are the best measure to enact on collector roads for traffic calming efforts.
“It reduces conflict points and slows traffic,” he explains. “Eighty per cent of collisions occur at intersections.” Boan says traffic circles help to reduce accidents and increase pedestrian safety.
Van Halst and his neighbour Rob Murray would welcome a second traffic circle, but they both don’t accept the reasoning behind not putting speed bumps in on 63rd.
“There are other major roads with speed bumps,” says Murray. “Sunrise Ridge [elementary school] on 60th Ave. has speed bumps out in front of the school.”
(Sunrise Ridge has two speed bumps at either end of the school zone. Sixtieth Avenue is an arterial road.)
Van Halst said he’s not asking for 10 speed bumps. He feels one or two will do the trick.
“They aren’t addressing the safety issue,” adds van Halst. “They are looking for a low-cost solution instead of putting in a proper crosswalk with a light and addressing the speed problem in a tangible way.”
Both van Halst and Murray are also up in arms over new parking restrictions that were just put into effect on 63rd Avenue near the 166th Street intersection. Rather than increasing public safety, they say the new restrictions encourage speeding.
“(Parked cars) constrain the space and impulse to speed. This is because a narrower road space sends the signal to drivers that you are not on a dragstrip, but a place where people actually live,” explains van Halst.
In a letter to area residents, the City claims the spots were eliminated to improve sightlines for pedestrians as they attempt to cross the intersection. This is apparently being done as a temporary measure until the traffic circle goes in.
Murray said if the City wanted to improve the safety for pedestrians crossing 63rd Avenue, they could’ve just made the intersection into a four-way stop.
“We have very limited parking available around here,” Murray says. “Getting rid of these parking spaces is going to cause more problems for people living here and for pedestrians.”
He said pedestrians will suffer because the now “open road” will encourage more speeders.
Both van Halst and Murray say if cars are parked right up near the intersection, a driver’s impulse is to slow down as he nears the intersection, not to speed up — as they say happens when a driver has an open sightline.
George Gu, engineering assistant with the City, wrote in an email to residents of 63rd Avenue the parking spaces were removed for safety reasons.
In the email, forwarded to the Cloverdale Reporter, Gu writes, “(T)he restriction is based on a sightline safety concern for the crosswalk.” He continues, “a standardized test was conducted using the TAC guidelines. These guidelines were used to determine the extent of this parking restriction. We are obligated to implement the parking restrictions to address the safety concerns.”
Gu did not return calls from the Cloverdale Reporter by publication time.
“I don’t think those parking spots will come back after the traffic circle goes in,” says Murray. “If it’s all about increasing a pedestrian’s ability to see cars, then why would they?”
Murray thinks the City is just trying to placate area residents for the short term.
“I’m unhappy with engineering’s process, communication, and decision-making,” he adds. “I’ll be writing a letter of complaint to the mayor’s office this weekend.”