New Westminster to reduce speed limit on part of Richmond Street

A reduction in speed along a stretch of Richmond Street is one of several improvements being made to pedestrian crossings in 2019.

New Westminster city council recently endorsed a number of pedestrian crossing improvements that had been recommended by staff. The four locations were identified through requests from citizens, input from advisory committees, collision data and city staff.

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In Sapperton, Richmond Street at Miner Street has been the subject of several complaints in the past few years, with people voicing concerns about pedestrian safety and vehicle speeds on Richmond Street.

A staff report states that the plan is to pursue a 30 kilometres/hour speed limit on Richmond Street (between Cumberland and East Columbia), to install a marked crosswalk at the driveway to the 1876 Gaol building (at the bus stop) and to do curb extensions at both sides of that crossing. Because of the unique sightline and grade challenges, staff suggested a 30 km/h speed limit would be appropriate on that section of Richmond Street.

“However, additional infrastructure measures will be necessary to reinforce the reduced speed limit,” said the report. “Staff will monitor traffic speeds after their implementation to assess their effectiveness.”

Staff, however, determined that a crosswalk at the Miner Street intersection isn’t recommended for safety reasons, due to the nine per cent grade of Richmond Street at this location and the limited sight distance for downhill traffic. 

Coun. Patrick Johnstone expressed frustration about the lack of an official crossing at Richmond and Miner streets.

“We have to recognize that is a legal crosswalk,” he said. “A person walking along Miner who wants to walk across on Richmond is doing so in a legal way. It is a legal crossing. They are not jaywalking. If they are unfortunately hit by a car, the news report will naturally say the pedestrian was not in a marked crossing, and there will be some implied sense they were doing something they shouldn’t have been doing.”

Mike Anderson, a transportation engineer, said the city could do some significant work at the intersection of Richmond and Miner streets, potentially using flashing beacons and advanced warnings, but that’s not within the scope of this year’s budget.

“We do support and we will pursue lowering the speed limit on Richmond Street because it feels like the right thing to do in acknowledgement of the challenging sightlines,” said Lisa LeBlanc, the city’s manager of transportation. “Reconstructing the intersection at Richmond and Miner is not something that we have capital funds to do at this time.”

According to a staff report, the 2019 capital budget includes $200,000 for pedestrian crossing improvements.

Other pedestrian crossings slated for work this year include:

* Eighth Street at Third Avenue: While there’s already a marked crossing at the south side of this intersection, data confirmed there’s a “crossing demand” on the north side of the street. The city will install a “marked zebra crossing” on the north side of the intersection, make changes to the flashing beacon and install a curb extension on the west side of the street.

* 12th Street at Queens Avenue: Analysis showed that this intersection has fairly low crossing demand,, but staff deemed crossing facilities to be warranted because of the traffic volume on 12th Street. A crosswalk will be installed on the north side of Queens Avenue, and a curb extension will be built on the west side of the street. The crossing, which is near a gas station and a car dealership, as well a new private school and a bus stop.

* Sixth Avenue at 11th Street: Improvements to the pedestrian crossing were supposed to be constructed in 2018 but didn’t happen so it’s included in this year’s capital budget. Part of the designated Safe Route to Lord Kelvin Elementary, the plan for this intersection is to install a flashing beacon at the existing marked crosswalk, install a curb extension on the south side of the street and adjust the parking clearance on the north side to improve visibility.

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