Monday, May 25, 2015

My life as a second-class citizen along the Langley Bypass

Shortly after I moved from the Township of Langley to the City of Langley, close to a decade ago, I sold my car. I have been living car-free ever since. I’ve been able to do this because Downtown Langley (and the area of the City South of Fraser Highway) is walkable with easy access to shops and service. I’m also a 10 minute walk from the Langley Centre bus loop which gives me access to the rest of the region with a bus every 5 to 15 minutes.

While I’m able to live car-free most of the time, I find that I usually have to rent a car one or two times per year. This weekend, I needed to rent a car because I was attending a friend’s wedding which was in Hatzic, about 20 minutes northeast of Mission.

In the past, the car rental agency that I used was located at the corner of Fraser Highway and the Langley Bypass. This was really easy to get to as I could walk 15 minutes from my house to rental agency (along a sidewalk on Fraser Highway), or just catch bus.

Because of a recent redevelopment project, that car rental agency is now located directly under the 204th Street overpass. This is actually closer to my house, as all I should need to do is walk up 204th Street from 53rd Avenue. Unfortunately, pedestrian access along the Langley Bypass is non-existent.

The 204th Street sidewalk provides no access to the Langley Bypass. Even so, people will cross the Langley Bypass here to access it. Select image to enlarge.

The 204th Street overpass has a sidewalk, but it was designed to prevent people from accessing the Langley Bypass. As you can see in the following pictures people still access the Bypass, via an unsafe, informal trail.

Unsafe, informal trail that connects the Langley Bypass to the 204th Street Overpass sidewalk. Select image to enlarge.

The Langley Bypass is the most pedestrian-hostile road in Langley. This makes sense because unlike most other roads, it is not maintained by the City or Township of Langley, but the provincial government.

While the BC Ministry of Transportation might not want people to walk along the bypass, people still do. In fact, I walked past 10 people on my adventure to the car rental agency on the Bypass.

The Bypass is not going to turn into a pedestrian high street anytime soon, but the province should work with the City of Langley to make the corridor safer for all users.

By trying to design away pedestrian access, it just makes the corridor less safe for people walking. No one is going to walk 15 minutes out of their way to cross at the nearest intersection that the Ministry of Transportation has deemed acceptable for pedestrians to use. They are going to cross the road without protection, use an informal trail, and use the 204th Street Overpass.

When I originally went to pick up the rental car, I went 20 minutes out of my way, walking up Glover Road, then walking through parking lots on the south side of the Langley Bypass like a second-class citizen to avoid walking on that busy highway.

As long as there are shops and service along the Bypass, the City and the BC Government need to do a better job of making that stretch of road more accessible. Just because I don’t own a car, doesn’t mean that I should be denied access to shops and services in my community.

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