Gatensbury crash prompts plea for pedestrian and cyclist safety

Grover Avenue will be getting a marked crosswalk where it meets Gatensbury Street in Coquitlam. 

But other changes to make Gatensbury safer for pedestrians and cyclists will have to wait until the city is able to collect and analyze data on how use of the street is changing, said Dragana Mitic, Coquitlam’s manager of transportation, engineering and public works.

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The commitment to add the crosswalk on Grover Avenue sometime next year, when the city begins its annual pavement marking program, comes after parents concerned about safety along Gatensbury had a meeting with Mitic and Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart. The meeting was organized by Lori Holdenried, who lives on the Port Moody section of Gatensbury, after a young boy, Brody Lawrence, was hit by a driver Oct. 15 as he crossed Grover on his way to Como Lake middle school.

Brody, 11, wasn’t seriously hurt — he sustained a bloody nose, his bike was damaged and he missed a day of school — but he told The Tri-City News his sense of independence to get himself to and from school on his own has been impaired. He hasn’t ridden his bike since the collision and his parents now drive him to school and pick him up at the end of the day.

Holdenried, who helped advocate for safety improvements to the north end of Gatensbury, where the roadway descends a steep hill, said more walkers and cyclists are using the route since the city of Port Moody built a multi-use pathway on the west side.

But that pathway ends abruptly at the Coquitlam border, forcing cyclists into the road and pedestrians to navigate a sidewalk that ends at Como Lake Avenue. They’re then required to cross two busy streets to continue safely along a sidewalk on the opposite side of Gatensbury.

Holdenried said the hodgepodge nature of the sidewalk along Gatensbury and the inconsistency of crosswalks — for instance, Grover’s crossing isn’t marked but three other streets that do intersect between Como Lake and Foster avenues are — complicates the route for kids travelling between home and school or to play at Como Lake Park.

“There’s too many potential areas of conflict for pedestrians and cyclists,” she said.

Mitic said she can’t explain the absence of a marked crosswalk at Grover but, in addition to addressing that, the city of Coquitlam will look at the design and cost implications of building a sidewalk on the west side of Gatensbury between Como Lake Avenue and the park, where pedestrians can then access a well-established trail along the shore of the lake.

She added: “we cannot commit to a specific timeline for the construction of that missing link.”

Mitic said while crash data collected from ICBC suggests Gatensbury between Como Lake and Foster avenues hasn’t been a particular problem over the past five years, drivers regularly exceed the posted 30 km/h speed limit.

“We are engaged with residents and we will be conducting further investigation of this section of Gatensbury,” Mitic said, adding the city will also look at the stretch from Como Lake Avenue to the Port Moody border.

Holdenried said that assessment has to come through the lens of making streets safe for every user, not just a convenient conveyance for cars.

“We’re promoting that we want people to get out of their cars but that is what the road is built for,” she said.

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