NEWTON — Surrey is considering a variety of safety measures along 128th Street near Princess Margaret Secondary school, where a motorcycle crash left 16-year-old Amarpreet Sivia dead and two other teenage girls, both 17, in hospital.
The girls were all students at the school and were on their lunch break at the time of the accident.
Neder Dhillon, principal at Princess Margaret, attended Surrey's transportation and infrastructure committee meeting on Monday and said a crosswalk is needed.
Dhillon said there are four blocks without a crosswalk - between 68th and 72nd avenues - and he has noticed that speed is becoming an issue in the area.
"We have many of our students who are now attending Kwantlen (Polytechnic University) while they're taking classes with us," he said, which means they need to cross the street.
"The bulk of (pedestrian) traffic would probably happen in the mornings, lunch time and after school; however, if you spend some time around the school community, you'll find that a lot of the neighbours who live just south of our school do access that commercial property during the evenings and on the weekends, and cross 128th Street, again where there's no crosswalk."
He said that morning he saw an elderly gentleman running across the street.
Dhillon said a more immediate concern is the median along the corridor, with hedges that are quite high, where students often wait to cross.
"If you're driving along 128th (Street), you can't always see them standing there," he said.
Dhillon told the committee that it takes 20 minutes for students to use existing crosswalks to get to commercial businesses across the street.
"To walk to the nearest light, cross the street, and to the pizza place is a 20-minute walk. In a 45-minute lunch hour, I can understand why somebody would cross" by jaywalking, he said.
Jaime Boan, Surrey's manager of transportation, said Monday that the city is looking at where to put a crosswalk, as well as considering other safety measures such as fencing.
Boan said the city has found median fencing unsuccessful adjacent to secondary schools. He said the city found people would jump over median fences, as well as through holes in the fences.
"It actually created a less safe environment," Boan said.
The city has found fencing on school property much more effective.
Boan said the city will also review the speed limit on 128th Street.
"We haven't had a history of complaints about speeding (on 128th Street), although recently I have heard a couple of comments about it. So it's something we will need to look into a little more," Boan said.
While the city has plans to build a crosswalk just north of 72nd Avenue on 128th Street in 2014, back in 2011 it decided against one at the location of the fatal crash.
The city did comprehensive studies of all its schools in 2011, looking at possible safety measures. The study recommended two crosswalks along 128th Street - one near the spot where the fatal crash occurred and another 200 to 300 metres north, just south of 72nd Avenue. Following the report's recommendations, the city did its own "warrant analysis," which measures factors such as speed, gaps in traffic and physical parameters. The analysis found that one crosswalk was warranted, but the one near the fatal accident occurred was not.
The city is reviewing the entire corridor to determine the most suitable place for a crosswalk.
Boan said that crossings are never 100 per cent successful.
"It doesn't matter what we do engineering-wise, there are always cases where pedestrians will choose not to cross there, or not press the buttons that we have in the crossing, those types of things," Boan said.
Coun. Barbara Steele said there should be an education component added to the equation.
"We can put everything up in the world, but if they're not going to listen to us, then it's going to continue to happen. I'm not saying that was the case here," Steele said.
© Copyright 2013