VERNON - It didn’t take long before avid walker Jasmine Finlay, who moved here a year ago, discovered a bit of an oddity in Vernon’s pedestrian infrastructure.
She calls it ‘the crosswalk to nowhere.’
Located at the junction of Highway 6 and 27 Street near Galaxy Cinamas, the crosswalk leads pedestrians across the roadway but there’s not much waiting for them on the other side. There is no sidewalk; rather walkers are greeted by a narrow shoulder and a steep rock face.
“I have always wondered about it,” Finlay says. “It’s kind of hilarious.”
She’s quick to add it’s also inconvenient and dangerous.
“If I want to walk to Save On Foods, it’s only one kilometre away, but you totally take your life into your hands,” she says.
The crosswalk is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transportation, not the city. In a written response provided to iNFOnews.ca, the ministry says it is taking action to address the issue. In fact, they will be removing the crosswalk altogether.
“The ministry thanks local residents for bringing this crosswalk on Highway 6 and 27 Street in Vernon to our attention,” the statement says.
Enhanced signage is on the way to encourage pedestrians to use only the west side of the intersection to cross the highway, the ministry says.
“In addition, the ministry will work with the City of Vernon to determine if future improvement projects may be required to support pedestrians and cyclists using this stretch of 27 Street.”
The ministry says it will continue to ‘monitor the intersection for pedestrian safety.’
Another option may also be in the works for pedestrians wishing to walk from the East Hill neighbourhood down to the Shops at Polson Park and the downtown core. Amanda Watson, transportation manager at the City of Vernon, says they are working with the ministry and landowners to build a trail connecting 21 Avenue with Highway 6.
“It’s better to come that way rather than down 27 Street onto Highway 6,” Watson says.
The project remains in the concept phase.
As part of a long term plan, the city is also looking at adding a sidewalk on the west side of 27 Street from 28 Avenue to Highway 6.
Installing a sidewalk on the east side of 27 Street on the hill leading down to Highway 6 is not currently on the books.
“The community support was for the connectivity from the trail, rather than going to 27 Street and back-tracking,” Watson says.
Public input sessions in recent years indicated many people were interested in walking from East Hill to the Shops at Polson Park, and most of the feedback supported the concept of building a trail, Watson says.
The city is taking a priority-action approach to the installation of new sidewalks in Vernon, and Watson says they are always looking for opportunities to add infrastructure, particularly when other road work is underway.
Finlay has been around the block when it comes to pedestrian-friendly infrastructure. After two people were struck on the same crosswalk in her former hometown of Calgary, she lobbied city council for safety improvements. The enhancements came — after she moved. Better late than never, she says.
“People underestimate how much of an impact investments in pedestrian infrastructure have,” Finlay says. “It’s more people walking, less people driving. It impacts climate change and you save on health care costs.”
So far, she loves Vernon and hopes the ‘crosswalk to nowhere’ will lead to positive changes for pedestrians in the city.
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