A four way stop at the corner of Lochinvar and North Road, flashing pedestrian lights, more cross-walks, and a median were some of the proposals made by Gabriolans to road officials on how to slow traffic through the Village core.
At a June 18 Gabriola Transportation Association (GTA) meeting at Agi Hall between Gabriolans and highway officials, GTA Chair Jim Ramsey said that for some time his association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Gabriola Ratepayers’ Association have been concerned about speeding through the Village centre. He said they wrote a letter last fall to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) outlining their concerns. He said they suggested measures such as crosswalks and a four way stop at North Road, and Lochinvar Lane as ways to make the Village area more pedestrian-friendly.
GTA member Andre Lemieux said the four-way stop and the crosswalk would be an inexpensive way to resolve the problem. Regional Director Howard Houle said he couldn’t support putting in a four way stop because “every time the ferry comes in 75 cars have to stop there – one behind the other all the way down the road”. Meeting attendee John Peirce took strong exception to Houle’s comment saying, among other things, that the intersection is “an accident waiting to happen”.
One meeting attendee said that he had a number of close calls on Lochinvar because of drivers heading into the gas station. If “you don’t like the stop sign”, he said, “at least put a median in on Lochinvar to force people to do a right hand turn onto Lochinvar and a left-hand turn into the gas station”.
MOTI Operations Manager Johnathan Tillie said an engineer would assess the areas suggested for cross-walks. He said he would also follow up with the Local Trust Committee and the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN), with suggestions for how to proceed. He said the engineers’ biggest concern is that a crosswalk not decrease a driver’s available stopping time after coming around a corner. He said “they don’t want to put a hazard in the road that wasn’t there before”.
Gabriolan Steve Earle also gave a presentation of a proposed off-road trail running up North Road from Agi Hall to Tin Can Alley. He said that the trail would have two road crossings – at Lochinvar, and at the school – where it would cross from the north side of the road and back again. He said they have spoken to many of the landowners along the trail who are supportive of the trail idea.
GTA member Andre Lemieux suggested that stop signs would be “ideal” at those crosswalks.
Meeting attendee Lynn Young agreed with the proposed location for the new Lochinvar crosswalk. She said she didn’t understand why the crosswalk already in place crosses from Robert’s Place to Folklife Village.
Fire Chief Rick Jackson said the crosswalk was put in by private citizens who “just went out and did it”, and the walk was approved after the fact.
One meeting attendee asked about putting in flashing yellow lights at the crosswalks. Jackson also asked if traffic circles were possible. Tillie said usually traffic circles are used instead of a signal. Lemieux noted that traffic circles are expensive.
GTA member Randy Young asked how Earle’s plan would be integrated with MOTI. Houle said the RDN has recently applied to have the authority to administer sidewalks and trails. However, he said they would not be responsible for crosswalks. Tillie said MOTI and the RDN frequently work with each other on projects. Houle said that it was likely they would be able to hire a planner specifically to work on this project so it could move along fairly quickly.
Meeting attendees also said there should also be a crosswalk at Taylor Bay Road and South Road, and more streetlights up the ferry hill as it is very difficult to see pedestrians and bicycles there at night.
A meeting attendee also noted that the corner of King and Berry Point roads is very dangerous. He said both a traffic circle and a convex mirror have been suggested as solutions to this problem. He said MOTI rejected both these solutions and instead said they would ask the property owner to clear some trees. He said none of these things have been done.
GTA member Randy Young said a list of areas that are dangerous to pedestrians should be created and presented to the highways department. He suggested that the GTA take responsibility for providing that list.
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