The North Saanich road where a pedestrian was hit in January has received safety upgrades.
On Dec. 30, 2018, the driver of a silver Volvo station wagon was travelling southbound on East Saanich Road when they struck a 68-year-old North Saanich man crossing at Barrett Drive. The man was taken to hospital where he died of his injuries.
On Monday, District staff began the process of installing new solar-powered activated signals and rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) at three intersections on East Saanich Road including Barrett Drive, Lowe Road and Bazan Bay Road.
“I do feel safer, I commend the mayor and council for finally doing this, even though its six months after. Its better late than never,” said Charlie Lundstrom, a frequent pedestrian and cyclist who lives in the area. Lundstrom said the upgrades were “a long time coming.”
“I’m just one of many people concerned about that particular crosswalk,” he said. “It’s a very dangerous area, even with [safety improvements] going in, people speed through there … It’s windy, there’s a lot of blind corners, that’s the issue. Combine that with speeding, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.”
Between Barrett Drive and McTavish Road, East Saanich Road has bike lines, a sidewalk on the west side and three uncontrolled pedestrian crossings. City staff estimate that up to 9,800 vehicles drive along portions of the road each day.
ICBC crash records reveal six casualties at Bazan Bay Road and one at Lowe Road between 2013 and 2017.
North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr echoed Lundstrom’s concerns about visibility.
“The road isn’t straight. It has some turns,” Orr said. “And these flashing strobes I think are very visible so where we have corners, even if they’re fairly shallow corners, it will give drivers a little bit more awareness that someone is in the crosswalk area.”
A safety study of the pedestrian crossings – funded 50 per cent by ICBC – recommended upgrades at Bazan Bay and Lowe Road to enhance the visibility of pedestrians.
“Residents have expressed safety concerns regarding pedestrian safety at crossings of East Saanich Road in relation to vehicle speeds in the area,” reads a Jan. 7 staff report to council.
Barrett Drive, with a lower volume of crashes recorded, wasn’t identified as a priority intersection, but the District decided to move ahead with upgrades there anyways.
The staff report reads: “Given the recent collision and tragic fatality and the heightened neighbourhood concerns in the community, the addition of RRFB’s at the Barrett Drive crossing could be advanced in the short term as well.”
Council approved the safety upgrades at a council meeting on Jan. 21.