Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rat-running a serious concern for residents

As multiple high-density developments continue to be approved, concern has been increasing about rat-running through residential streets.  I've already posted several times about the problem of increased traffic through Brentlawn Drive and the problem of aggressive drivers using Brentlawn as a freeway.  As the residents of Brentlawn are organizing to meet with the City of Burnaby, a group of residents on Graveley Street have been doing the same.  Both groups will be meeting with the City Traffic Committee on November 5 to express their concerns and press for solutions.  I hope the meeting will result in more than just lip service.

Burnaby NewsLeader article below:

Graveley Street residents seek relief from ratrunners

Cherie Moses moved two years ago to North Burnaby from Edmonton where, she says, vehicles usually stop at stop signs.
That's apparently not the case here, she said, at least not on Graveley Street, where she lives.
Indeed, during an interview with a NewsLeader reporter Tuesday afternoon an SUV ran a stop sign to beat the traffic lights which had stopped traffic on Willingdon Avenue.
It's a regular occurrence on Graveley, between Carleton and Willingdon avenues, said Moses, 64, as is speeding, revving up the steep hill on the Carleton end, and people's parked cars being damaged in hit-and-runs.
There's also an issue of people parking on the street while they go to work nearby or take SkyTrain.
"Everybody seems to know about Graveley except city hall," she shouted above the revving traffic near the Carleton end.
When her complaints to Burnaby city hall didn't result in any resolution, Moses started talking with her neighbours and learned she wasn't alone in her frustration.
"I finally realized there were people on the street wanting change for a long time but they'd given up."
They began coordinating their efforts and last month a group of neighbours met with Coun. Sav Dhaliwal, chair of the city's traffic safety committee, and two planning staff to show them the problem first-hand.
Their concern is only heightened by plans for major new developments at the Brentwood mall site and 1st and Gilmore avenues.
"Development is sexy but traffic control isn't," Moses said. "They're obviously planning for more traffic but they're not taking into consideration what's happening right now. It can only increase."
Gerry Rosen, 71, who lives near the Carleton end, said the traffic is ratrunning through the neighbourhood to avoid congestion at Lougheed Highway and Willingdon. Instead, commuters go from Gilmore to Douglas Road, Carleton and Graveley, cross Willingdon and make their way through one of the streets north of the mall, such as Brentlawn Drive, over to Delta Avenue and onto Lougheed.
Speed humps on Graveley are flatter than they'd like, leading to vehicles cruising over them instead of being forced to slow down.
Several residents have had parked vehicles damaged in hit-and-runs, mostly taking off side mirrors, while Rosen himself had $900 worth of damage caused to his car in August.
"You try and back out of your driveway during rush hour, sometimes you're taking your life in your hands," he said.
He's lived on the street for 18 years and believes the traffic has gotten progressively worse. He's seen close calls and incidents of road rage, and worries about the kids in the neighbourhood.
In fact, the pedestrian crossing on Willingdon and Graveley came about after a mother was struck and killed by a pickup truck while crossing the street while pushing her toddler daughter in a stroller.
Traffic counts on that stretch of Graveley done during the summer found 1,200 to 1,400 vehicles a day were using the street, said Doug Louie, the assistant director of engineering in charge of traffic and parking management.
While he said "that's not unexpected," he acknowledged that it's a little higher than a typical residential street of single-family homes which generally sees about 1,000 cars a day on the high end.
Louie said the engineering department will look into any concerns the residents point out to them, including the possibility the speed humps are flatter than they should be, noting they're designed for speeds of up to 40 km/h.
City hall knows that Lougheed and Willingdon is very busy and may result in impacts on surrounding streets, he said.
"We are looking at making changes to the surrounding street network." For instance, they're considering extending Dawson Street east of Beta Avenue to improve traffic flows.
A realignment of 1st Avenue—the development at Gilmore, if approved, would involve Douglas Road being broken up by an expansion of Willingdon Heights park—could also change traffic patterns, and staff are looking at the potential impacts, he said.
Dhaliwal said after witnessing the issues first-hand that "they have legitimate concerns." However, "these concerns are probably a little bit more serious than some but not as serious as others."
Traffic issues are a problem throughout Burnaby, he stressed. But city staff have been directed to look at Graveley in light of the proposed development at 1st and Gilmore, and see if restricting left-turns at Douglas could help reduce ratrunning.
Dhaliwal said he's also asked staff to look at the effectiveness of the speed humps, potentially adjusting the pedestrian signal at Willingdon so drivers on Graveley can't use the timer in their efforts to beat the signal.
And he'll be asking Burnaby RCMP to do some spot enforcement on the street.
Meanwhile, the Graveley residents aren't taking it easy. They've started a petition calling on city hall to conduct a planning process looking at traffic calming, pedestrian safety and parking in the area.
They plan to present it and their concerns to the traffic safety committee on Nov. 5.

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