Letter: This is how we made our New West street safer in just 6 weeks

Editor:

This morning, six weeks from initiating traffic advocacy efforts, we now have our street (400 block of Fader Street) marked by the City of New Westminster as local traffic only and there are fewer cars moving down our residential road.

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It is more peaceful, it is more pleasant, it is safer.

Six weeks ago, a neighbour knocked on my door for the first time. They were distressed about the safety of traffic on the street. It is well-known that vehicles frequently go well over the marked 30 km/hr speed limit, but a few days before a truck had recently almost struck one of the kids on the block.

I was home at the time of the incident and recall the screeching tires and loud scream of the child. My spouse rushed out the door to make sure they were OK.

Luckily, according to the driver, the truck stopped within a centimetre of the child and there was no physical injury. We were all rattled. Action was needed.

I recalled seeing in the Record briefly something about the Streets for People initiative by the city. I emailed City Engineering (engpost@newwestcity.ca) with a letter describing the problem and that I was looking for traffic calming to improve the safety of the road for vulnerable users stuck in their neighbourhoods during a pandemic.

The city replied and requested I poll the street to provide evidence of support for the initiative.

So I canvassed the neighbourhood on June 21 by knocking on all the doors of the street. Nineteen of 28 homes were polled (the rest weren’t home or didn’t answer at the time of the survey). Three of those missing expressed strong support after the survey.

Only two of those canvassed either weren’t sure about cutting off vehicle access from Braid or just didn’t want to sign the poll. The rest surveyed (17 of 19) were in favour.

I was informed that the project would get support and that the city would develop a design for the temporary modifications. On June 19, our block received a letter from the city informing us of the temporary traffic-calming measures to be implemented and on July 23, they were installed. It might not be perfect, but it is definitely a safer street and a huge step in the right direction.

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. 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.

Other cities are doing it. Let’s talk to each other and create a better place to live for all our neighbourhoods, one street at a time.

Brennan Anstey, New Westminster

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