The City of Surrey is taking a close look at a busy South Surrey crosswalk this week, after a young woman was struck in the 15300-block of 24 Avenue Friday morning.
The review was launched following an appeal by officials with Semiahmoo House Society, who say it’s sheer luck the injured woman – 31-year-old Michaela Robinson – was not more seriously hurt.
“This could’ve been a real tragedy,” said Alex Magnussen, chair of the Self Advocates of Semiahmoo, a group formed by SHS members to support their peers with developmental disabilities.
“We’re such a tight-knit community that when somebody gets run over, it’s like our sister got run over. And I don’t take lightly of my big sister getting run over.”
Robinson – featured many times in the Peace Arch News for her success as a Special Olympics athlete and as a spokesperson for people with developmental disabilities – said she was crossing 24 Avenue southbound just before 10 a.m. Feb. 17 when she was hit by a westbound vehicle.
“I sort of saw the vehicle,” a still-shaken Robinson recalled Monday.
“I had the right of way to cross, but they came and hit me.”
Surrey RCMP confirm a senior driver was ticketed for failing to yield to a pedestrian in connection with the incident, which left the three-foot-10-inch Robinson with scrapes, bruises and a broken hearing aid.
Monday, Surrey’s transportation and planning manager Philip Bellefontaine said the crossing is not one that has been on the city’s radar.
However, “given that it’s been brought to our attention, we will be doing a full review on-site,” Bellefontaine said.
He noted the review began Monday with a site visit, and is to include a further visit, testing of the equipment, and consultation with emergency services personnel – through the city’s road-safety advisory committee – and the SHS community.
He said the current signal’s configuration – with flashing lights, zebra lines and automated pedestrian detection, in addition to the push-button activation – is essentially the highest the city installs at such sites.
The next step, which Robinson said she would like to see taken, would be a pedestrian signal, where a pushed button changes a flashing green light to yellow, then red.
“I just think a stop light with the three signals… would be better,” she said. “So people with my height and my challenges with my vision actually know they’re safe.”
Bellefontaine, however, does not expect the ongoing review to determine that next step is warranted, noting the existing crosswalk “works very, very well and is quite respected by drivers.”
But, “we’ll be looking again just to make sure.”
Magnussen said that as-is, the crosswalk is “limiting people’s independence.”
He hopes what happened to Robinson will at least remind drivers to slow down and pay attention.
“This could’ve been a kid, this could’ve been an older lady. This is not just a Semiahmoo (House) problem,” he said.
“Just stop. Just in case. Take that extra five seconds. Five seconds would’ve helped a lot (on Friday).”