New signal at Smith and Kincaid moves a step closer

Jim Favaro is pleased that Burnaby
Jim Favaro is pleased that Burnaby's traffic committee has endorsed a staff recommendation to install a full traffic signal at Smith Avenue and Kincaid Street. He started a petition calling for the move after a neighbour was struck by a car while crossing the street in June.
— image credit: Wanda Chow/NewsLeader File

Manjinder "Mike" Bhangu has been extra wary and cautious lately when crossing the street at Smith Avenue and Kincaid Street.

It no surprise since he was struck by a car there and knocked unconscious on June 30.

So Bhangu is relieved that area residents' call for a traffic signal at the crossing cleared its first hurdle Tuesday evening. That's when the city's traffic safety committee endorsed a city staff recommendation that a full signal be installed there.

The intersection near Burnaby Hospital and Cascade Heights elementary is currently controlled by four-way stop signs. But as a NewsLeader reporter observed during one afternoon in July, heavy rush-hour traffic often results in drivers not stopping. There can be confusion among motorists and pedestrians over who has the right-of-way, and wide-turning transit buses and delivery trucks sometimes have to delay turns to accommodate each other.

The engineering department report noted the intersection has been studied before, in 2009 and 2011, in response to safety concerns. "Both times the intersection was considered a potential candidate for a signal, but was not considered the highest priority."

City staff conducted another analysis in response to area resident Jim Favaro petitioning city hall for a signal following Bhangu's accident. While traffic counts and field observations in July showed lower traffic volumes than in past studies, that was expected due to the summer holiday season, the report said.

But based on past counts and the hospital and school being nearby traffic generators, staff have decided a signal "would be beneficial during peak periods," it said.

"The latest field observations found that there were many instances of poor driver behaviour including not following the 4-way stop procedure or running the stop signs. The presence of pedestrians would increase the potential for confusion and conflicts during peak periods."

It's not yet a done deal as the proposed signal must still get final approval from city council. If it gets the go-ahead, the signal is estimated to cost $230,000 and would be installed in 2015 at the earliest.

City staff have contacted Burnaby RCMP to monitor and enforce traffic violations as needed in the meantime.

Favaro, who spoke to the traffic safety committee along with Bhangu, said in an interview that the area has changed in the last decade with the addition of the Discovery Park business area and more residents thanks to secondary suites.

His petition garnered 162 signatures with the majority coming online, where a number of comments mentioned other close calls at the intersection.

"I'm encouraged and I'm optimistic," Favaro said. "It's the first meeting the [traffic] safety committee had since the accident so that's very responsive."

As for Bhangu, he said he's still making a gradual recovery from a concussion and hopes to be able to walk without a cane soon.

But he's hopeful the signal will mean no one else will have to experience what he has.

Even before the accident he was nervous crossing at Smith and Kincaid. "So many people, they go blindly," he said of motorists. "They don't understand what the meaning of 'stop' is. So many just touch their brakes briefly and just go."

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