Safety of traffic barrier questioned

Intersection at Esmond and Cambridge in North Burnaby where a Vancouver woman crashed into the traffic diversion barrier while cycling early Monday morning. She was taken to hospital with head injuries. - Google Street View
Intersection at Esmond and Cambridge in North Burnaby where a Vancouver woman crashed into the traffic diversion barrier while cycling early Monday morning. She was taken to hospital with head injuries.
— image credit: Google Street View

A local cycling advocate is questioning the safety of a traffic diversion barrier in North Burnaby after a woman apparently crashed into it while cycling early Monday morning.

The 39-year-old Vancouver resident is in hospital after running into the barrier near Esmond Street and Cambridge Avenue.

An area resident called 911 on June 2 at about 5:30 a.m. after discovering a female cyclist lying next to the barrier, say Burnaby RCMP. She was unconscious and showed signs of a severe head injury.

Police believe she was not wearing a helmet nor had any lights on her bike as neither were found at the scene, said Burnaby RCMP Staff Sgt. Major John Buis.

The woman was rushed to Vancouver General Hospital where she remains in serious but stable condition.

Police believe she had been cycling southbound on Esmond and hit the traffic barrier in the intersection. The crash may have happened at around 3:30 a.m., as a neighbour told police that's when they heard a loud, unexplained noise coming from the intersection.

"With summer approaching and the start of better weather, we would like to remind all cyclists of the importance of wearing a helmet with reflective clothing and having proper lights on the bicycle," said Buis in a press release. "The lights on your bike are not only so you can be seen by motorists but also for you to see any obstacles in your path."

New Westminster cycling advocate Patrick Johnstone took exception to the police's focus on helmet and lights.

"@BurnabyRCMP talk helmets and reflective clothing, no mention of dangerous infrastructure there," Johnstone tweeted in reply to a NewsLeader reporter. Accompanying the message was an image from Google Streetview of the intersection, showing the barrier situated diagonally across the intersection in the residential neighbourhood. A reflective sign is located roughly in the centre. There are streetlights about a half block north and south of the barrier.

Doug Louie, City of Burnaby's assistant director of engineering for transportation services, was not aware of the incident until informed by the NewsLeader.

"I can tell you that I am not aware of any record of cyclists or motorists crashing into such barriers in Burnaby," said Louie by email. "The one in question is not new and has been in place for quite some time."

After checking Wednesday morning, he confirmed there are warning signs in place in advance of the barrier, which also has white reflective tape along its entire length.

Louie said he has requested more information on the incident from Burnaby RCMP.

The engineering department will look into the incident to determine whether any changes need to be made to improve safety at the intersection, he said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Buis had yet to receive an update on the woman's condition or the investigation.

Anyone who may have additional information about the incident is asked to call Burnaby RCMP at 604-294-7922.

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