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Sticking with the Steveston scramble

The Steveston Scramble opened on Dec. 15, 2011. - Martin van den Hemel file photo
The Steveston Scramble opened on Dec. 15, 2011.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel file photo

Richmond city staff are urging council to stick with the Steveston Scramble, calling it “well-received” one year after the one-of-a-kind intersection was created.

Pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles began scrambling at No. 1 Road and Moncton Street on Dec. 15, 2011. The $600,000 revamp of the intersection replaced stop signs with traffic signals—signals designed to stop all vehicles and allow pedestrians to walk in any direction, including diagonally.

The city also raised the intersection, implemented a new speed limit of 30 km/h on the approaches and added left turn bays in all four directions. A special surface treatment featuring crosswalk art was also installed.

In a report coming to city council’s public works and transportation committee Wednesday, staff say the “majority of comments” from people who’ve travelled through the intersection have been supportive.

”The signalization of the intersection...including the ‘pedestrian scramble’ phase... has been well received by the public and stakeholders since its implementation,” according to the report, whose key author is Donna Chan, the city’s manager of transportation planning.

The intersection hasn’t come, however, without its share of critics. Some drivers say pedestrians have too much control, suggesting pedestrian travel be restricted in non-scramble periods. But staff say that would be a problem for people with visual impairments who rely on sounds or cues from traffic movement to cross.

“This is especially apparent if they use guide dogs as the dogs are not able to distinguish which intersections have a pedestrian scramble feature and which do not,” noted Chan.

Staff are nonetheless preparing to make life a little easier for motorists travelling through the village’s busiest intersection. Planners have acknowledged drivers are facing new delays now that right turns are prohibited on a red light.

In her report, Chan said the right-turn restriction will be scrapped, and signs will be replaced with new ones cautioning motorists to yield to pedestrians. It’s possible a no-right-turn-on-red prohibition will return—during the scramble phase only. That, however, would require new specialized traffic signals.

In the first eight-and-a-half months of operation, officials have recorded four crashes at the revamped intersection—one causing injury. In all of 2011 just one crash occurred, the report says.

A half-century ago, pedestrian scramble intersections could be found in Vancouver, but Richmond is now the only city in B.C. boasting one. City staff say Delta is considering one for Ladner Village and Vancouver is mulling the possibility of one at a Robson Street intersection.

Moncton & No. 1 Road collisions

-2012 (first 8 months): 4 (1 involving injury)

-2011: 1

-2010: 3

-2009: 7

-2008: 5 (2 involving injury)

-2007: 3 (2 involving injury)

*Source: City of Richmond

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