As a response to safety concerns, a “cyclist-on-bridge” signal has stood at either end of the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge for months now. But how does it work?
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure told The Observer that pole-mounted radar sensors detect cyclists and those otherwise crossing on the shoulders of the highway. The sensors are calibrated to detect movement only along the shoulder only, which means cars driving along the bridge would not activate the signal. When a cyclist is detected, the signal flashes for about six-and-a-half minutes to warn drives approaching the bridge from either direction that at least one person is on the shoulders and to exercise caution going forward.
The cyclist-on-bridge signal on the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge was installed last March. MOTI said the cost to design and install the signal was approximately $200,000.
The signal is part of an ongoing effort to create a safer experience particularly for those using active transportation along the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. A recent surge in appealing to government officials for a safer bridge came in the form of a petition created by concerned Popkum resident Lauren Mitchell, which has since been signed more than 1,000 times. The petition suggests a number of ways the province can potential fix present and future safety issues – widening, replacing or twinning the current bridge.
The Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge was built in 1956, replacing a ferry system used to cross the mighty Fraser River. Safety concerns for pedestrians, cyclists and those otherwise using active transportation have been an ongoing issue for decades. Motor vehicle crashes are also a concern as a number of fatal and otherwise serious crashes have claimed lives and severely disrupted traffic along the only route between Chilliwack and Agassiz.
The good news is the bridge is undergoing improvement and reinforcement construction, for which the government allocated $36 million. The bad news is something like an expansion, replacement or twinning project would not be financially feasible at this time.
Last summer, The Observer conducted a survey about the bridge and potential safety improvements. More than 280 people responded, 85 per cent of which called for a wider sidewalk for pedestrians and cyclists; currently, the bridge’s sidewalk is considerably narrower than the standard sidewalk, which can span between five to seven feet wide in residential areas. 60 per cent of respondents supported additional lanes while 67 per cent supported both ideas at once. About 47 per cent were in favour of twinning the bridge and just over 5 per cent were okay with the bridge as it stood.
There are a total of six cyclist-on-road signal locations in B.C. as of the end of January. Two are located along Highway 99 – one near Stanley Park in Vancouver and one on the Sea to Sky Highway near Porteau Cove. One is located on Highway 3A at the Nelson Bridge in Nelson and on Highway 3 near the Elko Tunnel near Fernie. Finally, there is one located along Highway 1 at the Alexandra Tunnel north of Spuzzum.
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