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BEPPLE: The need for a safer Westsyde Road

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
January 08, 2016 - 7:37 AM

On Monday, a young woman from Kamloops was killed in a head-on collision with another vehicle on Westsyde Road. What a difficult time it must be for the family. It leaves a huge hole in their hearts. It will take a long time for the family to heal.

If her death was the only one, it would be bad enough, but Westsyde Road has a continual series of accidents or serious injuries. Just a month earlier, a pedestrian was seriously injured and hospitalized in a collision. About a year ago, another man died on Westsyde Road in a collision. And in between, then and now, there have been a series of other collisions.

There are ongoing serious vehicle accidents on Westsyde Road, leaving people seriously injured or killed. Just over a year ago, a friend of mine was in one of those accidents. Like many other accidents, it was a head-on collision. She was in hospital for weeks, in a coma, and then recovering. She suffered a head injury and concussion, as well as broken bones and strained ligaments. She has been off work ever since. She is just one of many people who have been injured or killed on Westsyde Road in vehicle collisions.

As we grapple with the latest of many deaths on Westsyde Road, let's remember that city council backed away from slowing traffic on Westsyde Road back in 2006. In 2006, city traffic engineers recommended slowing traffic on sections of the road, but residents asked for more enforcement instead. City council listened to residents and no changes were made to the road.

It's time to rethink the road again.

Westsyde Road is a great road, maybe too good. The posted speed is 60 km/hour, but it is engineered for 80 km/hour. That means people often driver faster than the posted speed limit. And when accidents do happen, as they’re bound to, they are that much more serious.

Westsyde Road is like no other arterial road in Kamloops I can think of. Columbia Street, Tranquille and Summit have accidents too, but it seems that it is the Westsyde Road where the deadly accidents happen. I don’t know any other road in Kamloops that has so many serious accidents with such deadly effects.

Westsyde Road has the feel of a highway, with wide lanes and few traffic lights. But it has the hazards of a city street, with driveways, intersections, and pedestrians.

More enforcement is not the solution. The solution is to design a ‘slower’ road. A report presented to the Canadian Institute of Traffic Engineers last year showed that narrower streets are safer. Having one lane rather than two also slows things down. There are many other ways to slow traffic as well, such as bubble outs at cross walks. If a road looks like a highway, people drive like it’s a highway. If it looks ‘slower’, they driver slower.

Since 2006, city council has been aware that many people travel the road too quickly. Not everyone, but some people. The seriousness of the accidents on the road, and their frequency, makes it clear there is a problem on Westsyde Road.

It may seem too soon after this young woman’s death to be talking about ways to make Westsyde Road safer. If that’s the case, then let’s do it for the man who was killed a year ago. Let’s do it for my friend who was permanently disabled. And for all the others who have been injured or killed on Westsyde Road.

It’s time for City Council to look at Westsyde Road again. It’s time to see what can be done so that another family doesn't have to go through the tragedy that happened, not just this week, but so many times before.

— Nancy Bepple is a recovering politician and local news junkie. She expects she will never recover from her love of the banjo.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
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