A senior would like to see improved traffic enforcement on Resthaven Drive to make Sidney a more pedestrian-friendly community.
Signs posted around Sidney that claim it is a pedestrian-friendly community are “laughable,” said Jon Blair, who lives on Henry Avenue just off Resthaven Drive. “At the present time, we are a very automotive-centred kind of town,” he said.
Blair made these comments after an incident in early December that left him shaken. He said a car almost struck a van on Resthaven Drive near Brethour Avenue. “Had the van been hit, it would have slid across the road and hit me.”
Blair recounted that incident in a letter before Sidney council, writing that the “terrific shriek of brakes and horns” stemming from the would-be collision shook him badly. “(I) needed my nitroglycerin spray to calm my heart down,” he said. “Had there been a collision, I would have been killed by the van.”
Blair said would like to see at least two measures to help improve safety near the SHOAL Centre for Seniors, starting with increased patrols by the RCMP. “Everybody who lives on Resthaven that I know of has complained about people speeding on the street,” he said. “All you have to do is stand out by the SHOAL Centre for a few moments. There is a speed (reader) in front of it and you will notice right away well over half the cars going by there are travelling much more than the speed limit.”
He would also like to see the prohibition of parking anywhere near pedestrian crosswalks because parked cars obscure the visibility of pedestrians as well as users of motorized mobility aids.
Blair would also like to extend the duration of walk signals at intersections among other measures and he is concerned about the presence of scaffolding at a construction site at the intersection of Beacon Avenue and Forth Street. The scaffolding currently permits one-way sidewalk traffic only. “The parking lane has not been cordoned off to permit walking,” he said in his letter, adding pedestrians “are required to walk on the road to the right of parked vehicles in the traffic lane.”
Staff have acknowledged in letter to Blair that scaffolding on the sidewalks is not “ideal” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These projects have been in development for some time, and this scaffolding is in place to keep pedestrians safe,” it reads. “We ask that pedestrians yield to oncoming pedestrian traffic when they are walking in this area, or pedestrians can cross the street for a block to avoid these locations. Pedestrians are never encouraged to walk into live traffic.”
The staff letter also points to the municipality’s participation in the planning phase of a Saanich-led speed reduction pilot project that would see speeds decrease on all roads without a yellow centerline to 40 km/h.
The staff letter also points that the RCMP has stepped up enforcement on Resthaven Drive, with staff having recently contacted the RCMP about a complaint similar to Blair’s.
Blair’s concerns draw attention to contemporary and future urban design. As Canadian society ages, urban designers have called for measures that respond and recognize changing demographics, an issue of some importance to the Saanich Peninsula generally and Sidney specifically, as one of the oldest communities in the region.
In a 2018 report titled Zero to 100: Planning for an Aging Population, prepared for the Capital Regional District, Sidney-based urban planner Kristin Agnello spells out a number of recommendations to improve sidewalks and pathways, including sufficient pedestrians crossings that are safe for people for different levels and types of disability, with non-slip markings, visual and audio cues, and adequate crossing times.
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