“We’ve had some pedestrians get run over recently,” councillor Wade Niesh said at Monday’s council meeting after describing a scene where his wife was almost hit by a car at a crosswalk.
The statistics continue to stack up with 11 pedestrians hit by vehicles in 2017, and seven of those incidents on crosswalks. Niesh raised concern over lighting at the intersection where McBride splits First Avenue East and West, an area where dozens of parents drop off their kids for gymnastics classes at the museum.
There’s limited parking, parents often have to park on McBride or across the street, and children take poorly lit crosswalks where the lighting is on every second pole.
“There is a pole right at the intersection that does not have a light on it. I was thinking maybe we could look into what it would cost to put a light on that pole. Just for the kids, there’s a lot of kids using that,” Niesh said on Monday night, Dec. 11.
On Nov. 24, when the Northern View first reported on the tally of pedestrians struck by vehicles this year, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which is responsible for McBride Street and Second Avenue West, expressed sympathy but made no mention of improving its infrastructure or lighting for safety.
The City of Prince Rupert stated it did not plan on doing any major changes. But since the article was released a debate erupted online with more than 50 people commenting on cars to slow down, pedestrians to pay more attention and the need for better lighting.
Then, at the Monday council meeting, Mayor Lee Brain said he was in a “lengthy discussion” with the regional manager for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure last week.
“They committed to having an in-person meeting with us and our staff to discuss the entire through-fare, not just that crosswalk, but the entire through-fare to discuss what the options could be around safety measures,” Brain said, and that they should know more about when they will meet in the new year.
Councillor Barry Cunningham added that in Vancouver there are some crosswalks with puck-sized LEDs imprinted on the crosswalks in certain areas.
“These small LED lights are very cheap to operate, they’re very versatile in all weather and that because some of the areas they’re in are very wet like us. They really stand out,” Cunningham said.