When I worked at a newspaper in Maple Ridge for 20 years, the No. 1 issue was not housing or poverty or educating children.
It was shopping.
Don’t laugh – the people who cared about shopping over actual important issues certainly didn’t laugh.
They were dead serious that Maple Ridge did. Not. Have. Enough. Shopping.
I saw petitions, letters to the editor, videos – you name it – decrying the lack of a WalMart in their town.
My point is that no matter how many important issues there are in the world, sometimes it’s the smaller ones that burn people the most.
Like traffic in New Westminster.
Since taking over the editor’s chair at the Record a few months ago, I have come to grips that people in New West are obsessed with traffic issues, whether it’s drivers, cyclists or pedestrians.
I was at a party in New West a few months ago and joked that the Pattullo Bridge replacement needed to be 10 lanes so more people could come over from Surrey and the room nearly stopped.
People looked at me like I’d just set a puppy on fire.
I posted a brief about traffic having to be diverted in downtown New West for a few months due to sewer upgrades and it was like setting off a rocket for our online traffic.
I get it. New West is sandwiched between Surrey and Burnaby and Highway 1, with old, hilly roads for people to take. It’s not the best traffic infrastructure.
Figuring out the worst New West area for traffic is a task that will get any local group of people fighting like rattlesnakes.
My vote is for 20th Street, mostly because for a couple of years I had to take this piece of road to get onto the Queensborough Bridge.
I shudder to calculate how many years it took off my life. The long lines. The snail’s pace. The scum who would bypass the line and then cut in at the last second. The scum enablers who let them do that.
(Takes a swig from a flask.)
Oh, and there’s one more maddening part of going south on 20th Street – the people turning right at 7th Avenue.
Sure they have a right to do it, but when you’re in that line and getting closer down the hill, it sucks when a bunch of cars suddenly cut into the line.
It’s at this point that something happens to make life a little more dangerous for pedestrians.
When the light is red, some drivers heading south stop in the middle of the intersection to block vehicles from turning onto 20th Street from 7th Avenue.
Former journalist Chris Bryan tweeted about this on Tuesday, saying drivers “hog the box” and posting the photo that appears with this article.
“Is there a road sign,” he tweeted, “or some way to train the folks driving 20th Street in #NewWest not to do this? It makes for a terrible pedestrian experience.”
Bryan suggested a “no right on red” sign at 7th – a good idea - but I seriously doubt anyone would follow it. After all, people are already stopping in the MIDDLE OF AN INTERSECTION WITH NO GUILT WHATSOEVER.
Bryan later tweeted: “Needs a design solution, supported by enforcement as necessary.”
You could pretty much describe all of New West traffic the same way. In the meantime, we’ll all just continue to fume and count the lost years…
Follow Chris Campbell @shinebox44