The intersection where a 74-year-old man was struck by a vehicle Tuesday evening, at Trethewey Street and Slocan Drive, has been raising safety flags for the city for over a decade.
The man suffered serious injuries after being hit by a northbound vehicle in the intersection shortly before 7 p.m., and was airlifted to a Vancouver-area hospital.
Mayor Henry Braun has told media he’s directing city engineers to examine the safety of the crosswalk, which has white lines painted on the pavement but no warning lights for drivers.
Abbotsford resident Maryna Willms told the News she contacted the city about the crosswalk’s safety back in October, and was told her concern would be passed on to the appropriate department.
“I’ve seen too many people almost get hit. It’s pretty bad,” she said. “It’s great they put a crosswalk there, but there should be some lights. It’d be a shame for somebody to lose a family member.”
In 2001, a crosswalk was proposed for the intersection at an Abbotsford traffic safety advisory committee meeting, but rejected – partly because a city engineer considered it an unsafe proposition without any lights to warn drivers.
“A crosswalk was considered unsafe, primarily because drivers would not have a reasonable expectation that pedestrians would be crossing the road and wold not be used to seeing and stopping for pedestrians,” committee minutes describe a report from city traffic engineer Russ Mammel.
“[Mammel] reiterated that crosswalks provide convenience, but not always safety, and that it was not in the public’s best interest to provide a false sense of security,” the minutes continued, also noting that the current volume of pedestrian traffic in the area wasn’t high enough to require a crosswalk.
They opted to look into what it would take to put in a warning light for drivers – which could cost about $40,000.
In 2006, Mammel told the committee that a crosswalk was “warranted” for the intersection, and one was installed, without lights.
City spokesperson Katherine Treloar could not confirm whether this crosswalk’s safety was being re-examined by engineering staff. She said the city applies “a variety of sound engineering practices” when building crosswalks, and the crosswalk was installed in 2006 because a count showed sufficient traffic at the intersection.
“Traffic counts are a common method applied to establish the need for a crosswalk at an intersection,” she added.
The driver in Tuesday’s collision remained at the scene and cooperated with police.
Officers and collision reconstructionists are continuing the investigation into this incident, and witnesses should call the Abbotsford Police Department at 604-859-5225 or text 222973 (abbypd) or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.