The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) has implemented improvements on the provincially-held section of Marine Drive to increase pedestrian safety.
The improvements along Northwest Marine Drive have been in the works since two separate pedestrian incidents in 2021. In late September, two student pedestrians were struck and killed by a speeding car near c̓əsnaʔəm house. A few days later, another pedestrian was injured after a car failed to stop for the pedestrian crossing near the Chan Centre.
Since these two events, UBC, the Ministry and the RCMP have heeded community calls to improve pedestrian safety along NW Marine Dr.
Over the past few months, the MOTI has completed improvement initiatives designed to increase pedestrian safety.
In a written statement to The Ubyssey, the MOTI said the signage along the Marine Drive corridor had been improved and a permanent speed reader board at the meeting of NW and SW Marine Drive, where the speed limit decreases to 40 km/h, has been installed. These initiatives aim to "alert drivers about their speeds given the changing road cross-section and environment."
Additionally, the MOTI has finished installing roadside delineators at the outside curve of the road to help guide motorists as the road moves from four lanes to two. The remaining parking spots in this area have also been removed to help "delineate the transition and separate pedestrian sidewalk and cyclists."
In early December 2022, a specialized pedestrian-activated crosswalk with rapid flashing beacons opened at the crosswalk between NW Marine Dr and Cecil Green Park Road – near the site of the second accident. The Ministry said this initiative seeks to enhance the safety of those crossing, specifically when visibility is low.
Finally, the MOTI said it completed the LED upgrade of all ministry-maintained streetlights in this stretch of Marine Drive.
Despite these changes, some community members are still worried about safety. Third-year film studies student Claudia Lighter expressed concerns about driving along Marine Drive, even with the new improvements.
"First of all, the weather is usually not great,” she said. “Once you hit a certain point, the curbs kind of hit you out of nowhere. So I definitely don't feel super confident [as a driver]."
She said she believes the location of the new crosswalk "is not one of the more dangerous points on the road." Lighter classified the areas near Totem Park as the most dangerous for a driver as visibility remains poor at night.
After hearing of the new improvements, Lighter expressed hope that they will generally increase pedestrian safety. She said she thinks the improvements increase her ability to exercise proper vigilance but fears other drivers will not exercise the same caution.