British Columbia

Deadly road gets more speed bumps but not everyone's pleased

4 fatal accidents on stretch of Richmond's River Road since 2013

Yvette Brend

September 29, 2017

Call it a hump or a bump, it's not popular with some drivers. New traffic calming lumps have been installed along a deadly stretch of River Road in Richmond B.C. (CBC)

The City of Richmond plans to put 20 speed bumps — or what the city calls "cushioned speed humps" — along a deadly stretch of River Road, but the traffic calming initiative is irritating some local drivers.

Part of the road between No. 7 Road and Westminster Highway has been dubbed "misery mile" by locals because too many people have died in traffic accidents along the stretch that follows the Fraser River past the cranberry farms.

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Since 2013, there have been 25 fatal traffic accidents in Richmond, according to RCMP.

Four of those deaths were on River Road, along the most eastern kilometre.

In a horrific crash last November, avid cyclist Brad Dean, 33, of White Rock, was killed in a crash. Two other cyclists who were also members of Dean's cycling club were seriously injured.

So city staff are recommending the installation of 20 more speed "humps" along the rural road, which are larger and lower than the speed bumps found in parking lots, despite opposition from locals surveyed earlier this summer.

Kelly Jablonski (left) with friend Brad Dean, 33, (right) who was killed in a tragic River Road crash in November 2016. (Kelly Jablonski/Facebook)

Speeding is a big part of the problem, according to a city report on the issue. The speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour on most sections of the road. 

"The only effective means to minimize this undesirable driver behaviour would be to install physical deterrents," said Richmond Transportation Manager Joan Caravan, in the report.

A survey of 47 Richmond residents this summer came back with 60 per cent of respondents against the idea of traffic calming "humps," demanding more police speed enforcement instead.

Now some drivers are irked by the city's plans.

Marlyne Marrese calls the speed hump idea "awful."

She worries it will slow and bottleneck traffic when Highway 91 is backed up and River Road becomes the only route to get back and forth between Richmond and New Westminster.

A mix of truck and bike traffic makes River Road a hazardous route. (CBC)

She'd rather see better lighting or a wider road with a proper bike lane.

"A bike lane would be good. So many people on bikes that go down this road and it's hard to get around them when there's traffic," she said.

It is that mix of semi-trucks and bicycles that can make the stretch particularly hazardous.

"A lot of people come flying down this road at like 120 [kilometres per hour]. It's pretty dangerous because there's animals or trucks with the lights off that you could just T-bone," said Ben Dickinson.

"It wouldn't hurt to have them in. It just makes drivers more conscious of their speed."

Despite signs along River Road in Richmond B.C., urging drivers to slow down and share the road, many speeders ignore them, says city officials. (CBC)

With files from Meera Bains
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