Steveston ‘scramble’ a first in B.C.

A raised intersection featuring a pattern will encourage pedestrians to cross the road in any direction.  -
A raised intersection featuring a pattern will encourage pedestrians to cross the road in any direction.
— image credit:

A concept for an intersection found in major cities around the world is coming to Steveston.

Backed by a city council vote Tuesday, the four-way stop at No. 1 Road and Moncton Street will become the Steveston “scramble”—a $600,000 signalized intersection allowing pedestrians to walk in any direction, including diagonally—by fall.

“It’s about time,” said Coun. Linda Barnes, chair of council’s public works and transportation committee. “We’ve been struggling with that corner for such a very long time.”

It will be the first scramble intersection in B.C. Construction is set to begin mid-September and be complete by the end of October.

As the primary gateway to Steveston Village, the intersection is a chaotic mix of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians on busy summer weekends where “confusion” reigns, according to transportation planners.

The scramble aims to put a higher priority on pedestrians and promote walking in the village, planners say.

“We’re becoming much more densified and pedestrian friendly,” said Barnes. “Anytime I’ve seen these they’ve been in a downtown area where there’s a lot of pedestrians.”

Barnes said she resisted a signalized intersection in the past, concerned it would lead to motorists speeding into the village. But planners believe they’ve put the brakes on that by designing a raised intersection with a new speed limit of 30 km/h on approaches and within the village.

Other details include a special surface treatment featuring a pattern designed by Carlyn Yandle (a Vancouver artist and former Richmond Review editor) and left turn bays at all four approaches.

“This special treatment at the gateway corner of the historic Steveston Village area will further provide a pedestrian friendly environment for this popular location,” said Sonali Hingorani in a report.

But Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt voted against the proposal. Despite lower speed limits and a raised intersection, she's worried traffic signals won't slow traffic down enough in the pedestrian-heavy area.

"Whereas now we don't have too much interchange between vehicles and pedestrians, we're going to end up having some serious accidents in that area," she said. "I would like to see the four-way stop maintained."

Organizers of the fledgling Sockeye Spin bicycle race in the village have also expressed concerns—namely the raised design will affect the race course.

But staff say the rise is gradual, with a maximum gradient of five per cent, which they say won’t adversely impact racers.

The project is considered a pilot. Whether it could be deployed elsewhere in Richmond remains to be seen. Barnes said an intersection near the Canada Line could be a candidate—if pedestrian traffic warrants it.

Pedestrian scramble intersections can be found in Toronto, Ont. and around the world, including Japan, Australia and the United States.

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