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North Vancouver may redesign Delbrook Avenue for slower speeds

How fast do you drive down Delbrook Avenue?
A driver of an SUV turns onto Delbrook Avenue in North Vancouver, March 2021. | Google Earth

After decades as an all-you-can-eat-buffet for speeders, Delbrook Avenue may soon be going on a road diet.

Council unanimously passed a motion from Coun. Jordan Back Monday, directing staff to prepare a report on engineering and road design options for the Delbrook Avenue corridor “in an effort to slow traffic and make the corridor safer for all users.”

For years, residents along Delbrook have complained to council about speeding drivers, and while some changes have been made, the job isn’t done, Back said.

“I think about my two kids and walking along there or cycling along there and would I feel safe? I think the answer is very clear that I wouldn’t. The rate at which cars travel through Delbrook is just consistently fast and getting faster,” he said. “It’s largely an engineering issue. The road is too wide and as a result, people drive faster than they should.”

Back, who has made street safety a priority in his time on council, said the municipality’s goal should be to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries through better design.

Delbrook is classified as a “minor arterial” with a speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour, but data collected by the Delbook Community Association shows drivers routinely flout the limit, especially when going downhill.

“There are over 800 cars a day going over 65 kilometres per hour. On the weekends, it’s even worse. The RCMP is overstretched in terms of resources. Last year, 26 speeding tickets were given over the year, which is less than two a month,” association member Bev Parslow told council, adding that a survey carried out by the association found 95 per cent support for traffic calming among residents whose homes face Delbrook.

Numerous Delbrook area residents turned out to tell council to hurry up on slowing down traffic.

Speaking on behalf of the community association, Rene Gourley said the dangerous nature of crossing the street has an impact on the quality of life for those living there.

“It means that a parent doesn’t feel safe letting their kid go and buy a popsicle that’s across the street.… It means that you can’t go to the park alone,” he said. “Have a complete plan that is going to engineer away the need for enforcement because we can’t do the enforcement. Twenty-six tickets in a year? That’s a joke.”

Mayor Mike Little supported the motion, however, he warned of unintended consequences – sending impatient drivers to other quieter streets in search of a speedy rat run.

“These places cannot handle additional capacity and so we have to be mindful of what the spillover impact is going to be on these alternative routes,” he said.

Little added that the same debate could be had about virtually any arterial road in North Vancouver, and that bad habits behind the wheel like distracted driving or following too closely are rooted now in something larger.

“It’s very challenging to build your way out of this cultural problem,” he said.

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