Speeding in Greater West Bench and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI)
At the May 18 Board Meeting, we heard from Erik Lachmuth and Jeff Wiseman (MoTI) and I asked:
"Why is MoTI not open to traffic calming measures in rural areas that see a high volume of children, pedestrians and cyclists? Selby Park in West Bench is a constant concern with high speeds and a limited visibility as the park is situated on a curve of the road. If we could narrow the road or add speed bumps to decrease speed and increase safety, why wouldn’t we?"
Here is the email stream (summarized) between MoTI and me.
From MoTI to me:
Director Gettens – As a follow up to our call this morning I am including the rational provided by our Senior Traffic Standards Engineer with regards to your question requesting the installation of traffic calming devices on provincial roads:
As a general rule, the Ministry does not install speed humps or other types of vertical deflections. The primary reason for this is that: Provincial roads belong to all the citizens of British Columbia as they serve to promote the economy and inter-provincial movement of people and goods. The Ministry does not put vehicle restrictions (such as truck restrictions) on our roads except hazardous material routes and height and width restrictions. Consequently, because our roads are not deemed “private” roads for the local citizens but roads for all citizens, we don’t place speed humps.
Other reasons we do not place speed humps are related to:
Drivers not expecting them: If the issue is excessive speed, the speed humps may potentially make a dangerous situation even worse by causing the speeding driver to lose control
Ease of passage of emergency vehicles or larger trucks (especially with low bed trailers) – are there any large trucks such as logging trucks using the road?
Maintenance and snow clearing
Horizontal traffic calming elements, such as bulb outs/curb extensions at pedestrian crossings, may be more palatable. However, these are primarily urban treatments and do not really work if the roadway does not have curbs. We also do need to consider whether allocating more space for one group (in this example – people walking), could disadvantage others – such as people cycling.
If the road is rural in character, then the first step would be to review the signage in the area: For example, Is a playground sign present, or needed? I see West Bench already has a blanket 50 km/h zone, so perhaps a reminder/confirmatory R-004 may also be helpful.
Please advise if you have any further questions or require additional information.
From me to MoTI:
The road we are discussing isn’t supporting the inter-provincial movement of people and goods. There are no logging trucks or large commercial vehicles passing Selby Park. People are not only expecting traffic calming measures through Selby Park (and by the school) but citizens are asking for measures to be put in place. We are not looking for more space for one group (pedestrians) rather, we are looking for ways to keep those already using the space safe from speeding vehicles.
I appreciate the initiative to start the regulatory speed sign process and hope we can do more. It is awful to watch kids, cyclists and horses walking from the school to a community park with vehicles speeding by.
What do you need from me or the community to demonstrate that West Bench Drive is need of some safety measures?
From MoTI to me:
Director Gettens - What type of safety measures are you suggesting is needed for West Bench Drive, outside of the Selby Park area where we are currently seeking the regulatory 30km/h tab for the playground.
From me to MoTI:
A way to slow down traffic between the elementary school and Shelby/arena is the goal. It is a long, wide, stretch of road with easy curves - perfect for speeding vehicles. It is also a very well used pedestrian and horse riding corridor. The curve near Selby Park heading north, means cars are entering the playground zone blind. When you head south, you have to crest a small incline before you can see what is ahead of you. Either way, traffic is not slowing down.
The community has been asking for traffic calming measures for years. We have been told no. When I read the rational from the Senior Traffic Standards Engineer, the rational does not fit this road. It is a community/residential road. There will be no impact to the BC economy if traffic is slowed down here. The community is not asking for more space for non-vehicle-use but to make the existing space safer.
Appreciate any help you can provide. Thank you.
From MoTI to me:
Director Gettens - The criteria provided by the Regional Traffic Engineer applies to all roads under the province's jurisdiction, whether numbered highways, rural roads or local subdivision roads.
The District is limited to the options that our traffic engineering group establish as allowable treatments.
Beyond the ministry placing the appropriate regulatory speed signage, there are no other road features/treatments available to further encourage drivers not to speed.
The ministry will be installing a 30km/h regulatory speed limit tab on the playground signage for Selby Park.
The RCMP are responsible for enforcing the posted regulatory speed limits, and this is the deterrent that is available to encourage drivers not to speed.
So, at the end of the day, MoTI is staying firm on the 'no traffic calming measures'. However, Selby Park will see regulatory signs (official signs rather than the orange suggested 30km/hr sign we have currently) installed.
It is a start.
I appreciate Jeff and Erik (MoTI) getting back to me on Area "F" issues. MoTI is a provincial body and the RD has no authority over their work.
If we, as a community, want to keep pursuing this concern then our MLA needs to be asked to take a role. It is systems issue when,"(t)he criteria provided by the Regional Traffic Engineer applies to all roads under the province's jurisdiction, whether numbered highways, rural roads or local subdivision roads." A criteria that better fits rural-residential areas would be welcomed. But, that has to be addressed at the provincial level.
I have emailed Dan Ashton (dan.ashton.MLA@leg.bc.ca) and encourage you to do the same. Thank you for reading and please let me know if you have any questions or comments.