By Bill Bell
It has been over a year since the City of North Vancouver last publicly promised a pedestrian controlled stop light on Lonsdale at 4th street.
Of course the City gave their standard wiggle room proviso “subject to budget approval.”
That long overdue promise came after the death of 31-year-old Steven Attermann of North Vancouver who was crossing Lonsdale Avenue at the Fourth Street crosswalk just before midnight on March 31, 2016. He had been hit by Aldo Franco Trinetti.
Even before that tragic event there had been several accidents and numerous close calls. Any wait to install the safety light at this very dangerous intersection is just pure neglect.
I lived at the corner of 4th and Lonsdale for 4 years and saw first hand many pedestrians inch their way out on to Lonsdale only to run back to the curb while a car flew past going way over the speed limit. I myself have felt the wind of a racing car whiz by me as I jumped for my life.
In addition to speeding cars, I have been amazed at bikes, skateboards and even shopping cards careening down the street with no apparent worry about pedestrians.
It seems like common sense. Pedestrian controlled traffic signals are the most cost effective means of keeping people safe while allowing for an efficient flow of traffic, yet the City has dragged it feet for over 30 years…Yes you heard that right. 30 years.
That is when this issue came to council’s attention the first time (or at least the first time that I heard it when I was serving on council). It’s ironic that our governments and ICBC can claim to be so concerned about public safety, but when relatively low cost and effective methods that save lives are not employed due to “budget” considerations who gets the blame? Nobody?
As a former city council member (12 years) I can attest that the system is set up to deflect blame when it comes to inaction. It isn’t just “budget considerations”. Other convenient excuses or scapegoats include “work schedules”, “priorities”, and my favourite “impact analysis on other services.” The delays go on and on.
And what happens when a citizen tries to take the matter into their own hands through a civil suit?
In September 2016, Janice Attermann, Steven Attermann’s mother, launched a civil suit against Trinetti, the City of North Vancouver and an unnamed man whose vehicle Trinetti may have been driving at the time of the accident. In the lawsuit Attermann alleged the city was partly responsible for what happened by failing to take measures to ensure the crosswalk was safe.
In a statement of defense, the city denied there were any hazards or risks present at the intersection and added the city acted “with the standard of care of a reasonably prudent municipality applicable at the time and in the circumstances.,” according to a North Shore News article.
The City’s response was that it acted “with the standard of care of a reasonably prudent municipality applicable at the time and in the circumstances.” Give me a break! It’s been 30 years the City of North Vancouver has been talking about safety at 4th and Lonsdale. People have died, been injured and have been scared out of their wits. That’s prudent?
This new council should insist that pedestrian controlled lights are put in immediately, or the next time someone gets killed, the blood will be on their hands.