Residents feel the crash that claimed a life at the intersection of Cumberland and Union roads wasn’t unexpected.
On Monday around noon, a 19-year-old man driving a motorcycle was struck by a car and died on the scene. The driver of the car, a 16-year-old student from Reynolds Secondary, was uninjured. He is being investigated for dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
Residents of the area have been voicing their concerns about the intersection for almost 20 years, said resident Craig Fraser.
He has lived in the area since 2016 and immediately noticed that traffic speed was an issue. The speed limit is 50 km/hr but drivers cruise through at “highway speeds,” he said. Neighbours told him that they went to council several times asking for traffic calming measures such as a four-way stop. According to Fraser, sidewalks were suggested but never installed. He also pointed out sidewalks would not slow traffic.
Saanich Police conducted a speed assessment in the area in 2018 and the results showed an average speed of 39 km/hr with a maximum speed of 91 km/hr.
Sgt. Julie Fast, public information officer for the Saanich Police, explained that, statistically, the intersection is not a high crash or high speed zone. From 2014 to 2019, only two collisions have occurred at the intersection including Monday’s crash.
Police called it a “quiet residential street,” said Fraser. Residents didn’t feel that was an accurate portrayal of their experiences.
The community will meet discuss next steps and to compile all their individual communications with the district so that they can present to council cohesively. The goal is a four-way stop as it costs less than other traffic calming measures, Fraser explained.
He noted that the district will be conducting another traffic assessment, so neighbours will hold off on speaking to council until those results are in.
Kelsie McLeod, communications manager for Saanich, emphasized that feedback about the intersection is taken seriously and that safety improvements including a sidewalk and crosswalk were already scheduled. Staff will also meet with Saanich Police to discuss the factors that contributed to the recent collision and determine a course of action.
Residents have long been asking each other what it will take for something to be done, said Fraser, and now, “multiple lives have been ruined.” He hopes this situation can be a catalyst for other neighbourhoods experiencing similar traffic issues.
“Don’t wait until something like this happens to put pressure on your local council,” said Fraser.