News

Residents petition for traffic signal

Mike Banghu is still recovering after he was hit by a car and knocked unconscious on June 30 while in the crosswalk at the intersection of Smith Avenue and Kincaid Street. Residents of the neighbourhood near Burnaby Hospital have started a petition calling for the current four-way stop to be replaced by a traffic signal. - Wanda Chow/NewsLeader
Mike Banghu is still recovering after he was hit by a car and knocked unconscious on June 30 while in the crosswalk at the intersection of Smith Avenue and Kincaid Street. Residents of the neighbourhood near Burnaby Hospital have started a petition calling for the current four-way stop to be replaced by a traffic signal.
— image credit: Wanda Chow/NewsLeader

Burnaby resident Mike Bhangu had just stepped off a bus on June 30 sometime after 5:30 p.m. He was in the crosswalk heading home when he was struck by a car.

The impact threw Bhangu, 45, to the ground and knocked him unconscious.

"I just saw a bunch of lights, I didn't know what was happening."

The next thing he remembers, he was riding in an ambulance and paramedics were telling him they were taking him to Vancouver General Hospital.

The accident happened in the intersection of Smith Avenue and Kincaid Street, just blocks away from Burnaby Hospital. But paramedics were concerned he might have a head injury, so they took him to VGH for a brain scan, Bhangu said.

On Friday, when he met with a reporter, Bhangu still sported visible bruises on his head and the soreness of his injuries had him walking slowly with a limp.

Meanwhile, area resident Jim Favaro has started a petition to address what residents believe is a longtime need for a traffic signal at the intersection.

Favaro was among the first on the scene of the accident, staying with Bhangu and trying to keep him comfortable until ambulance crews arrived soon afterwards.

He's lived in the area since 1986 and has seen quite a few changes in the neighbourhood. Despite the significant increase in the volume of traffic, the four-way stop at that intersection isn't one of them.

"In 2014 a four-way stop does not meet the safety needs and traffic needs of this intersection any longer."

There's no shortage of area residents who have connections to collisions at that corner. Carol Lewis said in the 1990s her daughter, who was in her 30s at the time, was also struck, suffering bad bruises.

Still another woman on the street, who didn't give her name, talked of her own recent close call.

About 15 years ago, residents asked Burnaby city hall for take action. But after studying it city staff determined the traffic volumes didn't warrant any changes, Favaro said.

But the situation has only gotten worse, he said.

The problem is Kincaid is no longer just a side street.

It's a regular thoroughfare for motorists, including transit buses and commercial vehicles, trying to get to Burnaby Hospital and Discovery Park business district.

The intersection is also used by ratrunners trying to avoid congestion at Boundary Road and Canada Way on their way to Willingdon Avenue.

Add the traffic of people trying to get to Cascade Heights elementary a few blocks south on Smith, other local residents and pedestrians and you've got a "dangerous mix," Favaro said.

There appears to be much confusion over who has the right of way.

During last Friday's noon hour, a reporter witnessed several close calls. An SUV was almost struck by a transit bus. Another bus had to delay turning a corner until a delivery truck cleared the intersection. And a pedestrian looked across the street to her right and hesitated before crossing only to be startled by a car stopping suddenly on her left.

Favaro ran unsuccessfully for city council in 2011 under the Team Burnaby banner. When asked, he said he does not plan to run again this year. "This is a community issue without any political overtones."

The petition, both on paper and online (http://bit.ly/1vSNi36), had garnered about 86 signatures by Monday afternoon.

Unlike a four-way stop, traffic signals are not open to interpretation. "Drivers are conditioned to respond to lights," Favaro said.

"The only conclusion we will accept is a traffic light—pedestrian-controlled and with priority access for emergency vehicles."

Favaro contacted Burnaby city hall asking to be a delegation to city council. He is now slated to present their case to the city's traffic safety committee on Sept. 2.

Burnaby's engineering department has already started looking into the concerns.

"A traffic signal is a possibility at the intersection of Kincaid and Smith, both streets are classified as Local Collectors," said Doug Louie, assistant director of engineering for transportation services, by email.

"In determining its suitability, we look at the traffic conditions and history of collisions among other things. We will be reviewing the intersection in light of the request and recent events."

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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