A Pemberton-area resident who works downtown says she and her co-workers are sick of watching motorists fly through the intersection of Frontier Street and Birch Road with little regard for pedestrians using the crosswalk.
For Chris Crowe, the last straw came when she had a recent close call of her own, as she said she and her three-year-old granddaughter were halfway across the street when they were nearly hit by a station wagon travelling down the road as if nobody was there.
“That happens all the time,” said Crowe, who works at Frontier Street Pharmacy. “It’s like (drivers) think it’s a race track.
“When you’re walking, you literally are taking your life in your own hands walking through that crosswalk.”
Since she works in the area, Crowe said she sees similar incidents regularly, and noted that some of her colleagues at the pharmacy say they’ve have had near-misses of their own at the crossing. Crowe said the problem extends to the intersection at Birch Road and Prospect Street, too.
That’s led her to wonder what can be done to force drivers to slow down in the downtown core, or at least have them take better notice of the crosswalks in the area. She acknowledged that a pedestrian light standard would likely be too expensive to install, but wondered if speed bumps or a designated slow zone, like the one on Portage Road in front of the Pemberton Community Centre, could be put in place.
“Right in the core of Pemberton, there’s no need to be doing even 30 (km/h),” she said.
However, the Village of Pemberton and Pemberton RCMP both say they’ve received no formal complaints about safety at the intersection, making it difficult for either to address any such concerns.
Sgt. Eric Rochette said police have no incidents on record for the last six months at the intersection.
“Unfortunately, if nobody comes forward, we’re not able to do much,” said Rochette.
Sheena Fraser, manager of administrative services for the village, said any changes to the speed limit on the road would require Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) approval, while a light standard would come at a cost to the village — a pricey one at that.
Otherwise, there’s not much else the village can do to help make the crosswalk more visible.
“One challenge that we have every year is that … MOTI paints the crosswalk sections, but with snow, salt, plowing and use and everything, the lines fade,” said Fraser. “It’s not our responsibility to do that on that particular crosswalk because it’s an MOTI road.
“We bring it forward every year to MOTI to ask them to paint the (crosswalks) and they usually get around to it in the fall as part of their schedule, which we don’t have any control over.”
However, Fraser said that if the village received a number of complaints regarding the intersection, “we would certainly investigate it and talk to MOTI, but we have not received any complaints about that crosswalk.”
Rochette said it’s possible that the problem has compounded since the railway crossing between the traffic circle and crosswalk was recently improved, as the tracks acted as a natural speed bump for drivers entering downtown. However, Crowe said she felt it was a problem long before then.
Meanwhile, Rochette said the slow zone that extends along most of Portage Road between Highway 99 and downtown has been mostly effective, but some drivers are still failing to slow down to 30 km/h between dawn and dusk.
“We get complaints once in a while in regards to people speeding there, but it’s only been a couple of years (since the limit was established), so it’s a matter of education and enforcement,” he said.
Rochette encouraged anyone experiencing a close call at any crosswalk to take down vehicle plate numbers and report the incident, and reminded drivers that pedestrians have the right of way when standing at a crosswalk.