Thursday, December 13, 2012

Crosswalks in Fort Langley

Recently, the Township of Langley installed a pedestrian overpass above the CN rail line through Fort Langley which connects Bedford Landing with the rest of the community. With the new overpass in place, local residents figured that crosswalks should be installed at the roads nearest the overpass as shown in the map below.

Due to residents’ concerns about the safety, Township Council directed staff to look at the possibility of installing marked, signed, and lite crosswalks.

According to the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) Pedestrian Crossing Control Manual (Manual), marked crosswalks are recommended when there are about 800 vehicles through the proposed crossing site during a peak hour and about 20 pedestrians. It turns out that there are enough pedestrians to warrant a crosswalk, but not enough cars. Staff found that during a peak hour at 96th Avenue and Edal Street, there were 566 vehicles. At Billy Brown and Singh Street, there were 129 vehicles during a peak hour. Installing the crosswalks could be perceived as a waste of money as there is not enough vehicle traffic, though I wonder if installing the crosswalks would encourage more people to walk.

If there are not enough pedestrians at a proposed crossing location, installing a marked crosswalk can actually make things more dangerous “as the low pedestrian activity can lead to motorists not expecting pedestrians to be at the location, which can lead to motorists disregarding the crossing resulting in reduced pedestrian safety.” There is safety in numbers.

So if there is safety in numbers that means that we need to build communities that actually make people want to walk. In Fort Langley, it amazes me that there are still streets with no sidewalks. New mixed-use projects like Coulter Berry will certainly encourage more walking, but providing a safe and enjoyable walking environment is also key. The provisioning of sidewalks and trails should be a priority in the urban areas of the Township.

1 comment:

Brad Richert said...

Hi Nathan,
I definitely agree that low pedestrian activity at a crosswalk can inadvertently cause more harm than good, in addition to the unnecessary cost.

As someone who only visits Fort Langley on the odd weekend, like almost everyone else, I do wonder whether this was taken into account in the study.

Fort Langley is a tourist destination with very low activity throughout the week. I think the problem here is that any study taken either on a weekday or off-season doesn't represent the explosion of people during late spring to early fall.

Which presents another problem - how much money should the Township soak into a seasonal village if the crosswalks were to pass?