‘It’s a dangerous intersection for pedestrians and cyclists’: Residents concerned over installation of bike boulevard

A resident of Lethbridge is voicing his concerns over the safety hazards he said are presented by a new bike boulevard installed on 9 Street and 7 Avenue south in the spring of 2017

“For 14 years I’ve lived on this corner with the four-way stop signs and there’s never been an incident here,” Derek Jordan said.

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“But in the past year, since the bike boulevard was first built, we’ve had a lot of issues with vehicles not stopping or driving where they aren’t supposed to. It’s just a dangerous intersection for pedestrians and cyclists.”

City officials said the boulevard was installed to help reduce traffic in the area, and create a quieter spot for bikers to enjoy.

“The directional diverter has had huge benefits for the cycling community where you’re protected from high speeds and high vehicles,” said Darwin Juell, the transportation manager for the City of Lethbridge.

“We’ve seen bike traffic increase by up to 80 per cent in the area.”

But less traffic doesn’t mean less danger, said Jordan, who added residents face dangers of motorists plowing through stop signs and driving over sidewalks to avoid the diverter.

“On Wednesday this week, I came home to clean the snow off the sidewalk and noticed the tire tracks here, a vehicle has driven over the curb, across the boulevard, across the flower bed, onto the sidewalk down through that pedestrian ramp and then kept going on 9 Street south,” Jordan said.

Jordan isn’t the only one concerned for cyclists and pedestrian safety in the area. Local store owner Brenda MacWilliams is also frustrated with the new system.

MacWilliams said she’s seen several cars drive along the sidewalk to get past the diverter and now feels responsible to warn clients to be careful when leaving her store.

City officials have been notified of residents’ complaints, and police were sent to the intersection in the summer of 2018 to help relieve the issue. During their two-day presence, police confirmed a high number of tickets were given out to motorists not obeying traffic laws.

However, Jordan doesn’t feel like that’s the biggest issue.

“There’s now 28 signs relating to the bike boulevard alone at this intersection, and they make no difference what so ever,” Jordan said.

“It simply doesn’t work.”

Frustrated for more than a year, Jordan has taken his concerns numerous times to different members of the city, but said he feels like nothing is being taken seriously. City officials say plans are underway to reach a safer conclusion.

“We’re going to set up a meeting with the engineering manager who can look at additional signage or changing the signage, sometimes less signage is even better,” said Juell.

Juell added plans are also in the works for more targeted police enforcement in the area.

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