A rural Saanich group acknowledged the district’s recent decision to undertake safe speed studies in some of its problem neighbourhoods, but re-emphasized to councillors the daily realities for vulnerable road users.
In a presentation given at committee of the whole Monday (July 11) by representatives from Livable Roads for Rural Saanich – a 334-name petition was also submitted – selected comments from petitioners and photos depicting typical road conflicts painted a compelling picture.
Initially targeting equestrians using Oldfield, the south portion of Old West Saanich, Sparton and Brookleigh roads, often to access trails at Elk and Beaver Lake, the petition was expanded to include all vulnerable road users, including those who walk or cycle.
“Our petitioners feel unsafe to use this corridor without the protection of a vehicle,” said Livable Roads member Pam Harrison.
That observation was evident in the tone of a number of comments added by 88 people who signed the petition.
“Walking or riding on any of these roads can be a terrifying experience at times due to the unsafe volume of traffic, combined with the unsafe speeds and attitudes of many drivers,” wrote one petitioner. “These roads have never been capable of handing the traffic they currently handle and active transportation activities suffer greatly because of this.”
Oldfield Road, often used by industrial traffic between Keating Cross Road in Central Saanich and West Saanich Road, near Prospect Lake Road and Hartland Avenue in Saanich, drew particular attention.
Resident Eriik Beerepoot worries about the safety of his family on the busy road.
“Many of our rural roads are not safe unless you’re in a vehicle. I live on Oldfield Road, where I cannot take my four-month-old son for a walk in his stroller; there is no sidewalk, no shoulder, and the large amount of traffic travelling at high speeds through our neighbourhood make this a non-starter,” he wrote.
Added another petitioner, “We no longer feel safe to walk from our home to the Elk/Beaver Lake trail system and prefer to drive there to avoid unsafe traffic on Sparton and Oldfield roads.”
The Livable Roads presentation referred to Saanich’s newly minted speed limit establishment policy as “groundbreaking.” Representative Pam Harrison said, however, “reducing speeds is an essential first step, but it is not enough.”
The roads focused on in the petition are among those included in the initial group of corridors to be studied by the district. The group has lobbied for further measures, such as traffic calming, but the council-requested policy on that element of speed control is in its early stages of development.
A motion to ask active transportation advisory committee chair Coun. Rebecca Mersereau to work with staff in reviewing and responding to the Livable Roads presentation and petition was unanimously approved.
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