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Victoria engineers against Pandora crosswalk

Mar 23 2012

There’s no need for a mid-block crosswalk in the 900-block of Pandora near the Our Place street drop-in centre, Victoria engineering staff say.

Concerns about some of the people using the centre wandering out into traffic prompted a review of the roadway — travelled by about 15,000 vehicles a day — with an eye to making crossing Pandora between Vancouver and Quadra streets safer.

But city engineering staff say the traffic lights at Vancouver provide enough gaps in traffic to allow people to cross.

“What’s occurring there right now is there’s a flow of traffic along Pandora Avenue and then the light changes at Vancouver Street and holds up the traffic. There’s a long gap in traffic that allows pedestrians to cross the street,” Brad Dellebuur, the city’s manager of transportation and infrastructure design, told members of the environment and infrastructure committee Thursday.

“So there’s lots of crossing opportunities that occur there naturally in the flow of traffic right now,” he said.

Analysis showed that while about 10 people cross mid-block per hour, most pedestrians use the intersections at either end of the block. Traffic along Pandora peaks during the morning commute. There are good sight lines along the stretch and street lights on the north side of the roadway.

Committee chairwoman Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe wondered whether a crosswalk might give pedestrians a false sense of security.

“When there’s no crosswalk and someone is crossing, they are more apt to keep an eye out for traffic and proceed a little more carefully. I think there’s been some evidence found … [that] when there’s a crosswalk, people just walk out expecting traffic to stop,” Thornton-Joe said.

Dellebuur said safety was the “paramount issue” in conducting the analysis.

“We want to make sure that if we are putting markings on the road, we’re saying to the public that of all the places you would cross in this area on a particular corridor, this is the best place to cross,” Dellebuur said.

Hugh Kruzel, of the Downtown Residents’ Association, said there’s no doubt in his mind that a mid-block crosswalk would give people a false sense of security.

“I don’t think a crosswalk would solve the problems in the 900-block,” Kruzel said, noting that a lot of people crossing in that area are impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Dellebuur said that, as development occurs in the area, bringing more people, the need for a mid-block crosswalk might change. A crosswalk could cost anywhere between a couple of thousand dollars up to $100,000 for something lit with pedestrian activation lights, he said.

Concerns for pedestrian safety came to the forefront two years ago when a makeshift tent city sprouted on the boulevard in front of Our Place.

The city passed a bylaw prohibiting camping on boulevards then poured $500,000 into a remake of the boulevard.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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