Jaywalking across Summit Drive remains a problem. It’s been just over two lucky years since the issue was last discussed in the media. Why lucky? Because somehow no one has been killed at the illegal crossing during that time.
The last time the issue came up, a number of solutions came with it. None of them have been implemented, however. The last plans on record are contained within the City of Kamloops Pedestrian Master Plan, a document from March 2013. That plan mentions a Summit Drive overpass with a value of $5.5 million.
So far, two kinds of deterrents have been used. First, a sign warning of a $121 fine for illegally crossing was put in place on the median. Second, in November 2013, RCMP came on campus to do some enforcement, handing out 52 tickets and four warnings. But as reported in The Omega shortly afterwards, even those caught and ticketed said they’d continue to cross illegally. Some were at it again the next day.
An overpass is a permanent and expensive solution, but it’s not necessarily the best solution. If the proposed Summit overpass is anything like downtown’s 3rd Avenue pedestrian bridge, it could go largely unused, with people instead walking right underneath it and crossing on flat ground. If pedestrians won’t walk an extra 200 meters to cross safely, they might not bother taking the stairs, either.
The solution after the fact (or with some foresight) then, would be to build a fence on the median or on either side of the road, forcing pedestrians crossing at ground level to walk around it. So if the construction of a fence is inevitable, and I can’t think of a solution that doesn’t include one, why not build it now? Why wait until a bad accident or a fatality forces the city’s hand?
It’s a problem that has needed a solution for some time. It’s also a problem that should have been anticipated. Dalgleish Drive and the Upper College Heights area is one of the denser residential areas in all of Kamloops. It’s also a fairly affordable area and right next to the university, so easy access to the university from the east should have been planned for. Instead, the only legitimate access onto campus is on the southeast corner, where a path goes from the sidewalk along McGill towards the Clock Tower.
Paths and signs are simply not enough to make people take the safest route, and a lack of legitimate convenient routes means people will take risks, like crossing a busy four-lane divided road. The city, the university and even building owners and renters around Dalgleish Drive area and Upper College Heights need to work together to create a solution that makes sense and is safe. Those crossing illegally will hate it if a fence goes into place, but without anyone willing to invest in a practical alternative, it seems to be the only real option.