Friday, June 20, 2008

Road Safety Forum

Councillor Mel Kositsky in an “arresting stance” at the Road Safety Forum

The Township of Langley’s Community Safety Commission, Chaired by Councillor Mel Kositsky, held a Road Safety Forum Thursday night at the Township Facility. The event was held in partnership with the Township, Langley RCMP, ICBC and the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation. Mayor Kurt Alberts was also on hand to meet and greet the participants for the entire evening’s program. Councillor Kositsky spends countless hours attending meetings related to public safety and related matters. I know because I previously served on the Community Safety Commission with Mel.

There were several booths sponsored by the participants, and I had loads of fun checking out the technology. I had previously blogged about the Township’s purchase of several portable VCalm traffic calming sign, that will include solar panels. Tom Ewasiuk of Trans Canada Traffic Inc., distributor of VCalm, allowed me an inside look at this neat equipment.

Left-to-Right: Paul Cordeiro, Manager Transportation Engineering (TOL), Alison Wong, Road Improvement Engineer (ICBC), Leanne Cassap, Road Safety Coordinator (ICBC) and the author stand with the VCalm.

The VCalm unit can be programmed with a laptop computer to display various messages based on your speed. The programming can also be placed on multiple SD memory cards and placed in units around the Township. The same SD Card will record speed data, such as the speed of vehicles as they approach the device and their speed after passing it. The equipment can also be placed in “stealth mode” where it appears to drivers to be switched off, but it is still recording data. The engineers like to run tests like this to see the effectiveness of the VCalm in an area. The unit pictured includes a strobe light that can flash at a vehicle that is speeding, although the Township has chosen no to have this feature on their initial order. The City of Richmond is experimenting with the strobe light version. I think the strobe would really wake drivers up and probably make them feel like a police officer is there.

Components of the VCalm System

Internal Radar Unit

Strobe Light

SD Memory Card

In his opening remarks, Councillor Kositsky shared a research note that people who put bumper stickers on their cars are more likely to be involved in road rage incidents, than those that don’t!

Cory Day, Senior Transportation Engineer for the Township, shared how his department supports the use of the 3 E’s: Engineering, Education & Enforcement to help reduce accidents and traffic problems. He shared lots of information related to signs, signals, beacons and pavement markings that we as drivers take for granted every day, or may not even notice. Cory spoke about resident complaints and how his department will approach such a case. They start with a study of 5 years of collision data that will often include the numbers and types of collisions. One important factor that must be considered is a comparison of the number of vehicles on the road vs. the number of collisions. His people will observe intersections day or night as required and record data for examination and mitigation.

Cory also stated that currently only 1% of Township residents cycle, but these residents are being protected with all new roads being equipped with cycle lanes, paved shoulders (in rural areas), pavement markings or other protective measures that are being taken. He spoke of pedestrian saferty measures that are being initiated by the Township, to include more markings of crosswalks, pedestrian signals, count down signals, and curb extensions that shorten the distance the pedestrian needs to cross, while keeping them highly viable to drivers. Of course the roundabout in Murrayville was mentioned as a nice traffic calming tool that will be used more so in the Township.

Leanne Cassap of ICBC talked about ICBC’s Road Improvement Investment Program. She spoke about the need to link education with enforcement, how car crashes are the # 1 killer of youth in BC, and how 40% of all crashes in the Province of BC happen at intersections.

Lynne Robinson, Road Safety Coordinator for the Township spoke about the Safer School Travel Program and some near road safety maps that are being designed and distributed for each specific school.

Inspector Amrik Virk, Langley RCMP Operations Officer spoke about the enforcement element of road safety, and what the RCMP is doing locally, with the Langley Traffic Services Section and the Integrated Road Safety Unit.

Allan Lamb, Executive Director of the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation said that in BC, car crashes cost the Province $8.8 billion dollars each year. He said that you are 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash caused by cell phone use, but there is no “political will” in BC to enact a no cell phone use while driving law. Allan said that as of July 1, 2008, BC drivers suspected of driving under the influence of a drug will be required to provide police with a saliva sample, and the Province now has over 200 police officers that are specially trained to detect drug impairment.

Before turning the evening over to audience questions, there were few dry eyes in the chambers when a young Langley resident by the name of Kevin Brooks positioned his wheelchair at the podium and spoke about his horrific crash that was caused by his impaired driving on a summer night in June of 2000. Kevin spoke about his carefree party lifestyle and poor choices that paralyzed him from the chest down, forever changing his life, and killing his passenger and best friend, Brendan.

Questions were taken from the audience. Of course they included a discussion of some solutions for 16th Avenue. Cory Day promised that spending approved by Mayor and Council will flow to the area and provide significant solutions, resources, and benefits to 16th Avenue.

As a side note, Paul Cordeiro, Manager of Transportation Engineering will be our guest speak at the South Fraser OnTrax’s August 14th meeting. Paul will explain to us the process that is used to devise a transportation plan for the community, as well as how the plan evolves and is revised over time, as the community grows. We look forward to Paul’s insight and expertise!

Can you guess the Top 10 Crash Sites in Langley before you peek here?

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