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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for August 26th, 2006


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This is going to be a departure from the pattern of this blog to date. Not a comment upon something I’ve read but something I experienced yesterday.

I was driving around 5pm on a suburban street, approaching a signalsied intersection. I think it may have a “green wave” as I found the lights turning green for me as they had at previous intersections. I saw cars lined up in the left lane waiting for someone to turn, but the curb lane I was driving in was clear. So I didn’t even need to touch the brake pedal. As I entered the intersection, my car was struck by a large white van. The airbags deployed – filling the car with smell of explosive. The two vehicles, now locked together skidded into the cross road, striking a third vehicle waiting at the stop line for the red light to change.

I am not going to comment further on this collision, but red light running – and excessive speed – is now a regular occurance. While the photo radar program for speed was ended, there are a few – not nearly enough – red light cameras. This intersection – like many others – did not have one. I have seen several collisions – and the aftermath of many more – at this and similar cross roads. We have a grid of arterial roads so these occur every half mile.

Far too many drivers now drive above the posted speed. To some extent this is the fault of the way the photo radar rules were drafted. Everyone now “knows” that 10% above the posted speed is acceptable, no matter what the road conditions. Speeds are frequently much faster than that, with plenty of vehicles weaving from lane to lane and racing to beat yellow lights. And sometimes, too often, red ones.

In Britain, fixed photo radar has been widely deployed to reduce speeding. The cameras are the same as we use in BC to monitor red lights. BC should convert these cameras to catch speeders. Prominent camera boxes – painted bright yellow – should be installed at all major accident sites and especially on bridges – the Patullo should be the first. The radar should be sensitive to all motor vehicles, to ensure that motorcycles are detected. And people who whine about “another tax grab” should be told that the revenue will go solely into road safety measures and other traffic law enforcement measures. For instance, buying more unmarked patrol cars of all all kinds (I can spot a plain grey Ford Crown Vic a mile away!).

Update inserted September 28, 2006

In an interview with the Surrey Leader’’s Jeff Nagel,
Premier Gordon Campbell re-stated his government’s
refusal to allow the installation of speed cameras on the
Patullo Bridge, despite the requests of the TransLink
Board, City of Surrey, and local traffic safety activists.
Campbell told Nagel that the bridge should be policed for
speeding instead, and speed cameras would not amount
to effective enforcement. Campbell also indicated that if
policing proved ineffective, the government might be
willing to consider speed cameras.

The government claims that allowing speed cameras on
the bridge would amount to a reversal of its 2001
campaign promise, and subsequent order, to cancel
photo radar. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon initially
backed the proposal to introduce cameras on the bridge
as a means to slow traffic and reduce fatal accidents.
However, Solicitor General John Les, who is responsible
for the issue, has since said speed cameras are not on
the table.

Surrey Leader 

I am okay. I have a tiny chip in a front tooth that is nearly invisible, but my the tip of tongue detects as a chasm. I have odd twinges in my left shoulder, and a nasty graze on the inside of my wrist where the air bag abraided the skin. The other drivers seemed to be similarly shaken and banged about but no bones broken. The police, fire and ambulance services were on the scene in seconds and two people volunteered their information freely as witnesses. The car will probably be written off, but it performed as designed. Crumple zones absorbed energy – and look dreadful afterwards – but the cabin remained intact.

But this road is used by cyclists – and old people who drive their motorised “scooters” in the road (often in contraflow to the traffic) with nothing more than a small orange flag to indicate their presence.

Be careful out there.

Update: Thursday, August 31

Vehicle will be written off. Pictures added


Driver's side

Written by Stephen Rees

August 26, 2006 at 9:34 am

Posted in Road safety