On 6th Street, Drivers and crosswalks

I noted this story in the News Leader, and as sorry as I may feel for the “rattled molars” of drivers on 6th Street, the story seems to miss the bigger concern on that stretch by the Rivers Reach: the disappearance of the crosswalks.

I live about a block from here, and I’m not afraid to admit that I spend a disproportionate amount of my food budget at the Reach. During Hockey season, The iCandy and I spend enough time at the Rivers Reach that the wait staff know our order coming in. The recent change in hamburger bun suppliers at the Reach was a cause of lengthy conversation in our house. What I am trying to say is that we are regular customers. I also cross 6th on a regular basis, walking to the Curling Rink or Queens Park, or to the Uptown Market (a damn fine small grocery, if I may say so). This area is literally my back yard.

The sewer repairs and resultant asphalt cuts are a hassle, and presented some challenges to local businesses during the works, but with the average speed of drivers cruising down 6th somewhere around 80km/h, it has been kind of nice to have some speed bumps along the way.

What’s not nice are the crosswalks at Blackford (right in front of the Rivers Reach) and at 3rd Ave being essentially gone for 6 months. With several stages of pavement ripping having taken place, the road markings for the cross walk are essentially eroded away. Crossing 6th between the lights at 4th and the signalized crossing at Queens has become a harrowing experience, with pedestrians not sure of the drivers recognize that there used to be a crosswalk here (or if drivers notice the signs indicating there used to be a crosswalk here), and drivers confused by people stepping onto the road against the flow of traffic, with no crosswalk to be seen.

6th Street crossing at Blackford. Note great pub for scale.
The next block down, 3rd Ave. crossing of 6th. The signs belie the lack of road markings.

This is exacerbated by the works on 3rd Ave and 6th St., where the much-touted Discount Towers development (I think that was their name) has staged their construction equipment on the sidewalk with nary an accommodation for pedestrians, except a “sidewalk closed” sign. Causing pedestrians approaching form the west to cross 3rd somewhere (as there are actually no north-south crosswalk markings in the area) or to walk in the driving lane.

Makes me wonder why they don’t close the CAR lane, and re-route the crosswalk around the construction site using the freed-up car space? Crazy? Giving up a little car space instead of a little pedestrian space? Not crazy when you put it in context of the City’s Pedestrian Charter.

Which I reprint here for your reading pleasure (emphases thiers):

New Westminster Pedestrian Charter 

Walking is the universal mode of transportation; people around the world walk to work, school and other destinations. Nearly every personal trip involves some walking, often to connect with other modes of transportation, such as bicycle, public transit and private car.

A pedestrian is a person that moves from place to place, either by foot or by using an assistive mobility device.

To ensure walking is safe, comfortable and a convenient mode of travel, the City of New Westminster respects the following principles:

Walking is a universally available means of reaching and using goods, services, community amenities and public transit.

Walking is the most affordable mode of transport, and allows everyone of all ages and abilities including children, youth and seniors to travel independently.

Walking is a proven method of enhancing personal health and well-being.

Walking relies on human power and has negligible natural environment impact.

Walking is a safe mode of transportation. The more people out on foot, the more a community has a greater sense of safety.

Walking-friendly places are people-friendly places, creating a more livable and cohesive community and contributing to community vitality, both socially and economically.

To support and encourage walking, the City of New Westminster will:

  • review practices and regulations to ensure that a high priority is placed on pedestrian needs;
  • plan, design and develop a pedestrian-friendly environment in public space to meet travel needs of pedestrians;
  • improve pedestrian safety by minimizing potential conflicts between pedestrian and other users in the public right-of-way;
  • invest in pedestrian facilities and services to encourage people to walk for commuting to work and school, exercise and recreation;
  • integrate walking with other modes of transportation.


  • provide and maintain infrastructure that gives pedestrians safe and convenient passage while walking and crossing streets;
  • provide appropriate pedestrian access to public transit services;
  • ensure weather protection is in place for pedestrians in commercial areas and other locations where there is significant pedestrian activity; and
  • seek funding opportunities with other levels of government and agencies;
  • ensure that all sidewalks in the City have appropriate curb cuts, that surface texture is constructed to prevent persons using mobility challenged devices from losing their grip on the devices, to include adequate lighting, and
  • access to buses be accommodated at bus stops for devices used by mobility challenged persons.

The City of New Westminster works with individual citizens, community groups and agencies, businesses and other levels of government to achieve a pedestrian-friendly, walkable community.

All I’m asking for is for someone in the City to open a bucket of paint and put temporary lines down until the road is properly restored. It is, quite literally, the very least we can do to live up to the Pedestrian Charter.

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