Pedestrians, motorists and cyclists are at risk because many aren’t following the road rules at a light-activated crosswalk near the Stickleback West Coast Eatery in Sooke, says Mayor Maja Tait.
On Tuesday, emergency crews responded to a five-car pile-up that luckily resulted in no serious injuries. Two months ago, a similar incident involving a dump truck occurred with two drivers taken to hospital.
Community members have for years voiced concerns about the safety at the crosswalk, where Sooke Road meets the Galloping Goose Trail.
“It’s a dangerous crosswalk,” said Sooke resident Colin Davenport. “It’s not one person to blame. It’s a culmination of everything.”
Davenport has launched a petition through change.org asking ICBC to construct a pedestrian bridge over Highway 14.
“A pedestrian bridge there would make so much sense. It would save ICBC and taxpayers millions,” he said.
The crosswalk was constructed 10 years ago and averages about five serious accidents a year, according to ICBC statistics.
Although the District of Sooke is not responsible for the crosswalk – it falls under the jurisdiction of the Capital Regional District and provincial government – Tait said she’s always had an uneasiness about its location.
Her concerns range from the crosswalk’s indicator light for westbound travellers being too close to the crosswalk, and no indicator lights for eastbound traffic, to pedestrians not pressing the buttons for warning lights when they cross.
“Highway and trail users need to be mindful. It’s a case of, what is the solution to make it safer?” she said.
Tait admitted the crosswalk is not a priority with council due to jurisdictional issues. Still, municipal staff is in talks with others levels of government on ways to make the crossing safer.
Highway 14 at Cooper Coves is under provincial jurisdiction. The Galloping Goose Regional Trail is operated by the CRD.
In 2011, the CRD led the design and installation of the current crosswalk that serves people travelling the route, with technical input and financial partnership from the province. Over the last decade, traffic volumes on Highway 14 have increased, and the number of people cycling or walking on the Galloping Goose has also grown.
Now the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has launched an engineering safety review of the crossing. The study is expected to be completed this fall.