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‘I fear for my life’: Saanich pedestrians want notorious intersection fixed

Douglas Street intersection near the Uptown shopping centre has some residents feeling uneasy
The intersection between Douglas Street and Boleskine Road has garnered and bad reputation lately (Screenshot Google Maps photo)

The infamous intersection on Douglas Street at the Uptown shopping centre remains on the caution list of many residents because of close calls with drivers.

Saanich resident Nicole Frances says the intersection of Douglas and Saanich Road is a hazard for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

“It’s at least four times a week that I’m almost hit there,” said Frances. “I fear for my life every time I have to cross the Douglas intersection by Uptown mall. The people turning right onto Saanich Road never look to see if a pedestrian is crossing on the walk sign, and they take the turn without even stopping.”

Susan Nelson wrote in an online post that people are always in such a hurry that they often ignore or miss the signage already in place.

“I often have felt that intersections could use some changes … for pedestrians and cars,” said Nelson. “My only thought on addressing this is if you feel unsafe to report it to Saanich … and express your concerns to the city. Copy the letter to the police so maybe they can address the no-stopping.”

The stretch of intersections from Douglas to Blanshard Street along Saanich Road are on an ICBC list with a total of 60 crashes in 2022, up from 20 from the previous year.

Patrick Schreck, a director with the Greater Victoria cycling coalition Capital Bike, says that one way to mitigate collisions on the road is for smarter municipal planning.

“A poorly designed intersection is going to lend itself to more accidents for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians,” Schreck said. “When an accident happens, there’s a tendency to point fingers and blame the motorist or cyclist when the priority should be to ask how could the design of the intersection be improved to avoid this situation in the first place.”

He added that a tight turning radius often requires vehicles to navigate more slowly and that “phase lights” and flashing signage can help quell the likelihood of a collision. However, he has been noticing better-designed intersections throughout Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland as time progresses.

“There’s also a responsibility for educational campaigns,” said Schreck. “Some motorists don’t know if they have the right of way or if the cyclist does. Clear signage and slowing down is going to be a winner for everyone.”

Some residents have suggested fixes to make the Douglas/Saanich corner less accident-prone, such as making this intersection “no right on red” and adding a green arrow for a right turn. Others suggest installing cameras to deter drivers from speeding through. Above all, the most common denominator among drivers and pedestrians is speed. Being more mindful of their surroundings before stepping onto the road or before turning.

“It’s not just these intersections that need attention, there are people making use of other intersections with roadways, so they also need to have the appropriate design,” said Schreck.

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