Campaign calls for crosswalk at fatal 72 Ave. crash site

Resident urges Township to implement traffic calming measures after crash claimed the life of an elderly pedestrian

Gary Hee

Gary Hee

Gary Hee says the death of a senior pedestrian on 72 Avenue last week is more tragic evidence of the need for traffic calming measures where 72 Avenue crosses from Surrey into Langley.

Hee, a resident of the area, is organizing a Saturday morning rally at 10 a.m. in a church parking lot near 72 Avenue and 198B street.

That’s where an 83-year-old man died on Thursday, Sept. 4, after he and an 81-year old woman were hit by a car.

Hee says he’s been told by Township of Langley staff that a traffic light will go in next year, but he and his neighbours feel something needs to be done sooner.

“We can’t keep having citizens killed on the street,” Hee said.

“I just want a crosswalk . . . just the basics,” Hee told The Times Tuesday.

“We can’t keep having citizens killed on the street.”

Last year, Hee launched a petition to press for traffic calming measures along 72 Avenue around 196 Street, after a young boy was hit while rollerblading and a 19-year-old woman was struck in a hit-and-run crash and left lying in a ditch.

Hee said he has threatened to paint his own crosswalk on 72 Avenue, but was warned by Surrey staff that he could face criminal prosecution if he did.

At the Monday afternoon meeting of council, Ramin Seifi, the general manager of engineering and community development, said plans for the area include “full signalization” near the scene of the crash early in the new year.

A memo to council from the engineering division on Monday said the Township has the money to build a traffic light at 196 Street and 72 Avenue, but can’t proceed until a design consultant hired by the City of Surrey finishes work later this year, followed by start of construction in the spring of 2015.

The memo noted plans for widening of 72 Avenue between 196 Street and 200 Street to four lanes, including left turn lanes and bicycle lanes.

It added Township staff plan to conduct pedestrian and traffic counts at the scene of the fatality, where two stops signs currently stand, “to determine if changes to the intersection traffic control are warranted.”

A woman who witnessed the accident went to Township council Monday night to lobby for safety improvements.

“That was very difficult to see,” Teresa Blades said of the fatal crash.

She added traffic accidents are all too common in the area, with vehicles ending up in the ditch “almost weekly.”

In her written submission to council, Blades said 72 Avenue has no marked pedestrian crossings between 192 Street in Surrey and 200 Street in Langley.

She said westbound traffic goes from two lanes to one at 198B street, creating a “funneling effect” that increases danger to pedestrians on the north side while on the south side, a property under development is forcing pedestrians to “walk within the eastbound lanes.”

Councillor Charlie Fox told Blades the Township is doing what it can to improve safety on the route.

“I know we’re as concerned as you are,” Fox said.

The same night, council approved construction of a housing project on 72 Avenue near the 198B intersection where the two pedestrians were hit.

The 15-lot subdivision was originally approved in 2006, but final approval was delayed “due to ownership challenges and market related concerns” a staff report to council said.

Construction of the project is expected to improve safety because it will widen 72 Avenue by two metres.

Langley RCMP said the fatal accident was likely caused by the glare from the setting sun which caused visibility issues for the female driver who hit the two elderly Langley residents.

Neither speed nor alcohol are considered factors.

 

Note: an earlier version of the story incorrectly reported Township staff warned Hee he could be prosecuted for painting his own crosswalk. In fact, it was Surrey staff. Township staff warned him about posting his own signs.

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