British Columbia

'It's terrifying': South Vancouver park users want better safety measures after pedestrian hit at crosswalk

Diane Buckley is one of hundreds of parents whose children play little league baseball at Memorial South Park. For years, the parents have lobbied the city for a safer crosswalk. 

City says it's aware of the safety concerns but can't install pedestrian crossing lights until next year

A little league parent crosses the street in front of Memorial South Park in Vancouver. Parents say the marked crosswalk is dangerous, and they want the city to put in more safety measures. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Every time Diane Buckley crosses in the crosswalk on 41st Avenue at Ross Street, she feels like she's risking her life. 

"It's terrifying," Buckley said. "Every day you hear brakes squealing. It's really dangerous."

Buckley is one of hundreds of parents whose children play little league baseball at Memorial South Park. Hundreds more use the park every day. 

Those who do say the intersection is unsafe, with drivers in the six lanes of traffic often speeding through the crosswalk without stopping for pedestrians. They say there are close calls every day. 

"It's scary because cars just blaze by and you never know if they're going to hit you," said little league player Reese Abbot. 

Call to action renewed

For years, the little league parents have lobbied the city for a safer crosswalk. The parents say their first call to action came seven years ago after little league parent Jasdeep Sangha's 79-year-old aunt was hit and killed in the crosswalk. 

"We did go to the city," Sangha said. "We talked to the cops and to some councillors and it got to the floor of council but it died when engineers said no because there's a light down there and at the top of the hill."

Little league baseball teams play regularly at Memorial South Park. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Calls for improved safety have been renewed since Tuesday, when a man in his 60s was seriously injured as he used the same crosswalk. Vancouver police did not respond to requests for updates about the man's condition.

Patsy Wilding, the South Vancouver Little League safety officer, says the city has told the group it intends to put in a pedestrian light because of a pending new B-line bus that will go down 41st Avenue — but that won't be until some time in 2020. 

"They said there's a lot of logistics of putting in the light and all the departments have to be coordinated," Wilding said. 

The city's project team for the new B-Line sent Wilding an email saying it is aware of the safety concerns regarding the crosswalk, and it has been highlighted as a priority.

But for the parents and park users who play there every week, another year of cars whizzing through the crosswalk poses too much risk.

"It's been overdue for 10 years now," said little league parent Brad Abbot. "I think they need to do it sooner rather than later."

With files from Deborah Goble

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