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Opinion: Ratrunners run rampant on New West streets. Let’s stop them

Resident urges more enforcement

Are you a ratrunner? Do you know one?

Chances are you do. They are drivers who want to avoid major routes during peak traffic times because those roads are moving too slow for their (lack of) patience level.

The problem with ratrunners is that they often race at well above the speed limit because they are rushing to save time. And this is done on quiet side streets in residential neighbourhoods that are filled with pedestrians and cyclists.

That puts people’s lives in danger.

I’ve written about this issue before, but recently I saw it brought up by the Twitter account @PhilRidinBikes about the Sapperton area.

“I’ve witnessed stepped up parking enforcement by (the City of New Westminster) bylaws lately,” he tweeted. “But still no sign of any speed enforcement for all these ratrunners through Sapperton residential streets.”

I tweeted back for more details about which streets are impacted the most and received this response: “All the up/down streets in Sapperton between E. Columbia and Richmond. Simpson, Alberta, Keary, Hospital, etc. But the feeders to Braid (Fader, Garrett, Kelly) are also bad.”

“Until we have a clear mandate that residential side streets are 30 km/h … it’s still incredibly unsafe, and we need to take better steps to discourage ratrunning, and slow drivers (speed humps, bump outs, etc.”

His tweet mentioned Fader Street and that reminded me of a letter to the editor I received in July 2020 about how the city responded quickly to a request from the residents of the 400 block of this road.

Brennan Anstey said he read about the Streets for People in the Record and got together with neighbours to ask the city for changes to prevent ratrunning in their block. Anstey emailed the city and was told to petition neighbours about changes. The petition received enthusiastic support and soon the city implemented traffic-calming measures.

“I have been a cycling advocate for over 15 years and have noticed there is a paradigm that streets should (and typically are) centre around cars,” Anstey wrote. “But what if quiet residential streets were actually made quiet and centred on people instead? We have an incredible opportunity to reclaim the Streets for People by pushing on this ‘open door.’ What better time than now while many of us are at home feeling isolated.”

So that seems like a positive change, although I did receive a follow-up letter from a resident on a nearby street saying that the ratrunners just moved a block over.

Not so easy to fix this, but at least the city seems to be listening.

I know of one are of Burnaby that had cement barriers put at the entrance of one side of every side street for multiple blocks so ratrunners had no entry into any of them.

That might not work for Sapperton, but it did for this North Burnaby area in the Brentwood neighbourhood.

Something needs to be done. Lives are at stake.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.