What an opportune time to make some adjustments to the Lerwick connector.
Traffic speed is being reduced on Lerwick by land clearing crews, adjacent to the “high accident frequency intersection” of Lerwick and Ryan Road.
I have three suggestions to improve the safety and cost-environmental efficiency of the Lerwick Connector, in particular between the town of Comox and Mission Road (Queneesh School/Costco turnoff).
1. Reduce traffic speed to 50 km/h;
2. Put in sidewalks on both sides of Lerwick, particularly the section from Valley View to Ryan Road;
3. Put in bike lanes, or at minimum have a continuous verge where bicyclists may ride.
Regarding the traffic speed: My child was fortunately paying attention to traffic as she stopped in the centre of the pedestrian crosswalk at Lerwick and Malahat, to permit a daydreaming teacher to fly through the crosswalk (at a speed exceeding 70 km/h). The teacher searched her out at school and apologized profusely.
Inexperienced young drivers exit from Mark Isfeld School, attempting to cross traffic and turn left. This is a challenging exercise even by experienced drivers.
Drivers turning left out of Malahat face similar challenges. Reducing traffic speed also reduces fuel consumption, and time lost due to accidents. The population density and resultant traffic flow is high enough in this area to warrant a 50 km/h speed. Put safety first.
Regarding the installation of sidewalks: There are two elementary schools and one high school whose students use Lerwick as an access route.
I have often observed high school students walking from Ryan Road towards Isfeld two or three abreast on the road on the southwest side of Lerwick, being approached by elementary students riding on the this wrong side of the road heading to Queneesh — all being passed by vehicles travelling 60 to 70 km/h.
The “sidewalk” here on this southwest side of Lerwick is narrow, consists of woodchips and mud, and is banked — not suitable for walking or bicycling by young children. Putting sidewalks here may also facilitate walking or biking of locals to their soon-to-be-constructed grocery store, again reducing traffic and the carbon footprint.
Regarding bike lanes, or continuous bike verges: I have often observed kids and adults riding on the wrong side of the road going to Isfeld and Queneesh schools. As both a cyclist and a driver, I recognize the danger of this activity.
As a driver, it is nigh impossible to swerve away from an oncoming cyclist who inadvertently veers into oncoming traffic. Well-marked and wide bike lanes would be ideal (see Comox, where Lerwick turns into Guthrie).
However, at minimum please do widen the “bike verges,” particularly on the northeast side between Malahat and Ryan Road. Placing fluorescent orange pole markers to note where the verge disappears for 30 metres provides the cyclist a warning, but does little to solve the problem of having to slide into sharing a lane with traffic travelling at 60 to 70 km/h.
I personally have almost been hit by a semi-truck at this location — neither of us was at fault.
Please, do some corrective engineering here, for both safety and economy. Now is an opportune time!
Editor’s note: Georgina Price says she is a member in good standing of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C.