Neighbours are requesting that the City of Surrey add flashing lights to a crosswalk at 32 Avenue and Semiahmoo Trail Drive. (Google image)

Neighbours are requesting that the City of Surrey add flashing lights to a crosswalk at 32 Avenue and Semiahmoo Trail Drive. (Google image)

Neighbours call for improvements to South Surrey crosswalk

Safety concerns grow after pedestrian struck on 32 Avenue last December

A group of South Surrey neighbours are worried about pedestrian safety at a nearby crosswalk, and are calling on the city to make improvements to the crossing.

The crosswalk on 32 Avenue near Semiahmoo Trail Drive is dangerous, neighbours contend, and Blockwatch captain Janita Schappert told Peace Arch News that she has frequently “witnessed the high speed in which vehicles travel down 32 Avenue to head to the 32 Avenue diversion, which leads to… Highway 99.”

“The speed of the cars travelling down this road can be as high a 80 km/h as they fly down through the traffic circle without as much of the tap of the brake pedal.”

The crosswalk is used daily by students walking to and from nearby Semiahmoo Trail Elementary, she added.

The campaign to request improvements – by better illuminating it or by adding flashing lights – was amplified after a pedestrian was struck in the crossing last December. Though there were reports that a pedestrian died as a result of the incident, Surrey RCMP have twice confirmed to PAN that the struck pedestrian survived and is recovering.

A written statement to PAN from the City of Surrey’s engineering department, however, notes that the city follows national guidelines from the Transportation Association of Canada with regard to installation of crosswalks, and said that “traffic volumes on 32 Avenue would need to more than double to warrant an upgrade to including flashing lights.”

“As a result, we have concluded that the existing marked and signed crosswalk is the appropriate treatment.”

A city review of the area was done in January 2020, the city noted, at which time the signs and painted markings were changed from “a typical crosswalk” to include “elephant’s feet” – painted lines that run parallel to crosswalk markings.

City staff also visited the crosswalk after the December incident, “and our engineers confirmed that visibility of the crosswalk is very good.”

“Sight lines between pedestrians and vehicles were sufficient on all approaches,” the statement continued, noting that some speed studies were also done by staff, and “traffic speeds are consistent with most collector roads: 85th percentile speed of 61 km/h in a 50 km/h zone.”

Surrey’s engineering department did note that on Jan. 11, 2021 trees were trimmed on the northwest corner of the crossing.

The trimming followed a recommendation from Surrey RCMP’s Traffic Community Response Unit, which – after “extensive enforcement” – identified overgrown hedges that made visibility poor. The mandate of the community response unit, RCMP Sgt. Elenore Sturko said, is to investigate complaints from citizens and determine an appropriate course of follow-up.

Neighbours also started a petition to have the city reconsider its decision, Schappert said, but it “proved to be ineffective.”

“I guess we are just left wondering what a human life is worth,” she said.

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