For residents of the university neighbourhoods, traffic and pedestrian safety has always been a concern.
That concern has now been sadly heightened after a youth travelling on a non-motorized scooter collided with a senior on the sidewalk near the Tapestry retirement residence on Wesbrook Mall in mid-October.
The senior sustained a fractured kneecap and stitches to the head. The victim may have to undergo surgery, a Tapestry official said, adding there have recently been numerous “close calls.”
On November 1, Staff Sgt. Chuck Lan, the RCMP UBC’s detachment’s commanding officer, confirmed to The Campus Resident that an investigation has been opened with regard to the incident.
The incident prompted the University Neighbourhoods Association to ask strata chairs to remind residents reminders about the need to walk bicycles, scooters, and other wheeled forms of transport on sidewalks.
In addition to that incident, there have been many close calls between cars and pedestrians on the roundabouts at West 16th, and frequent cases of speeding on West 16th and Southwest Marine Drive.
In response to those concerns, the UNA has written to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation calling for a pedestrian signal for the pedestrian crossing at West 16th and Binning Road. The crossing links Wesbrook with Hampton Place and is heavily used by students in Wesbrook studying at Noma Rosa Point Elementary north of 16th.
“This crosswalk is one of the key corridors for students and parents to travel to and from school during the school year,” Wegland Sit, the UNA operations manager, said in the Oct. 26 letter.
The crossing is used by 900 pedestrians a day. “Our community has been voicing their concerns about this crossing for a very long time,” he said. “There is no controlled crossing across the busy 16th Avenue corridor at all.”
“Our community has been voicing their concerns about this crossing for a very long time … there is no controlled crossing across the busy 16th Avenue corridor at all.”
The RCMP raised the issue of traffic safety in an Oct. 17 presentation to the UNA board of directors.
“We’ve been in and around schools, being really visible issuing tickets and also warnings,” Lan told the meeting.
Speeding has been a major concern for police, he said. “We’ve been really focusing on speeds on 16th Avenue, Chancellor Boulevard, and Southwest Marine Drive.”
Since July, police have issued more that 80 speeding tickets, 18 of which involved motorists travelling at excessive speeds, which is any speed 40 km/h or more above the posted limit.
The RCMP recently dealt with two notable instances. RCMP stopped a driver on West 16th going 144 km/h in a 50 km/h zone. In the other case, RCMP arrested a driver travelling 132 km/h in a 60 km/h zone on Chancellor Boulevard.
Drivers stopped at such speeds are fined up to $468 (depending on the speed) and have their vehicles impounded for seven days, Lan says. ICBC can levy additional financial penalties.
There have also been discussions, Lan says, with the transportation ministry about creating traffic calming measures along West 16th and posting speed limit reminders.
The City of Vancouver says traffic calming measures—including speed bumps, traffic circles, and curb bulges—can encourage safer driving by reducing speeds and traffic volumes.
UBC officials say they’ve made the issue a top priority, especially since walking, biking, and rolling, using scooters, skateboards, mobility aids and more, are the most common ways of getting around on campus.
In October, speed bumps were set up on Iona Drive in Chancellor Place and pedestrian priority zones have also been expanded.
On the Point Grey peninsula, jurisdiction is always complicated. The responsibility for traffic calming depends on where the jurisdiction lies, says Krista Falkner, the transportation engineering manager with UBC’s planning unit. (NOTE: Full Q&A with UBC’s Krista Falkner can be found at the end of this article)
Roads and spaces within campus boundaries are managed and maintained by UBC. Others have a mixed ownership, which might include the transportation ministry and the University Endowment Lands.
In the university neighbourhoods, the UNA is responsible for monitoring traffic issues and collecting community feedback.
Falkner says the first steps in implementing calming measures would involve collecting traffic information, assessing the site, and completing an engineering analysis. After that, changes would be made.
Main Mall is a perhaps the most prominent pedestrian priority zone on campus. It was converted to a car-free corridor a decade ago.
Falkner says residents of the university neighbourhoods should share any traffic concerns with the UNA, and for traffic issues within campus, they should contact UBC Campus and Community Planning.
AMIE BERNAERDT IS A SECOND-YEAR STUDENT AT UBC WITH PLANS TO MAJOR IN CREATIVE WRITING OR ANTHROPOLOGY. SHE LIVES IN WESBROOK PLACE.
Q&A with Krista Falkner, Manager of Transportation Engineering, UBC Campus and Community Planning.
What can be done to make campus safer for pedestrian traffic? Are there any current safety concerns being addressed, or that should be addressed?
Pedestrian safety is a top priority because walking/rolling is our most popular mode of transportation on campus and pedestrians can be more vulnerable. Our commitment to pedestrian safety can be seen in the expansion of pedestrian priority zones on campus.
In these areas we have stencils and signage to indicate it is a slow zone for all micro-mobility modes (biking, rolling). We also run education and awareness programs to help the entire campus community learn about the importance of sharing the space.
Are there any current plans in motion to make campus safer?
Campus Vision 2050’s Connected Campus big idea sets the long-term vision for a future campus that prioritizes sustainable modes of transportation through an expanded pedestrian priority zone, an efficient cycling and micro-mobility network and a network of zero-emission local transit–shuttle routes.
In the near-term, we review and update our transportation plans regularly to respond to changes in the way people are getting around campus. At the building scale, new building and public realm projects are being designed to make sure there is enough space allocated to moving people around safely and comfortably. This means building sidewalks that are wide enough for the number of people using them, for example.
Which authority is responsible for changes? For example, if a crosswalk were to be made into a traffic light, or other safety measures were implemented, who would look after that?
Roads within the campus boundaries are operated and maintained by UBC while all other roads have a mixed ownership that might include the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and the University Endowment Lands. Changes or requests for changes, regardless of road jurisdiction, typically follow a similar approach which is to first collect information, assess the site and complete an engineering analysis. This is followed by working with the appropriate road owner to implement the changes.
For implementing new safety measures, what would the process look like?
On the UBC campus, we would review safety enhancement opportunities and identify if there are mitigation and/or enhancement measures possible to address the safety concern or opportunity. In some instances, there may be behaviour issues to address, in other instances it may be a physical change that is necessary like a sign or pavement marking.
What role does the UNA play in traffic management and safety?
The UNA is responsible for managing roads within the university neighbourhoods, so they are involved in monitoring and collecting feedback from the community. When an issue or concern is identified that might require a change, the UNA follows standard engineering practices and works closely with UBC to review potential changes and opportunities for improvements.
If residents have any questions or concerns they would want to raise, who can they speak to? Campus residents can contact the UNA to share safety feedback regarding neighbourhood roadways. If campus residents have questions or concerns about roads outside the neighbourhoods, they can contact Campus and Community Planning.
What can drivers and pedestrians do to keep campus safe for everyone?
The most important thing people can do is be aware of and considerate of all road users. Drivers should always follow general traffic rules, avoid speeding, and be on the lookout for vulnerable road users. Pedestrians should use marked crosswalks, and make sure they are visible, particularly as the winter season approaches.
RCMP University Detachment – https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/detach/en/d/256
UBC’s Pedestrian Priority Zones – https://planning.ubc.ca/transportation/walking
Vancouver Traffic Calming – https://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/traffic-calming-and-safety.aspx