Opinion: This Burnaby ratrunner route is a dark ‘death trap’

Chris Campbell

Much has been made about the pathetic sidewalk situation in South Burnaby.

Just take a stroll along Marine Drive – if you can find space to walk in some spots – and you’ll see how much this situation needs addressing.

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And the City of Burnaby will be addressing it with a plan for a 3.7-kilometre “urban trail” for Marine.

But what about Gilley Avenue?

That’s what South Burnaby resident Kyle Pickens wants to know.

Pickens wrote to me about what he calls the “death trap” on Gilley that runs from Rumble all the way south to Marine.

If you’ve never travelled on Gilley, it’s a curvy, steep hill that is a preferred choice for many ratrunners speeding to cut their commute times.

gilley burnaby
A pedestrian crosses Gilley Avenue in Burnaby in an unmarked crossing that includes no sidewalks. Google Street View

For pedestrians and transit users, it’s not safe, said Pickens, due to a lack of sidewalks, crosswalks and lighting – a real problem during the months when it gets dark at 4 p.m. and drivers are trying to turn onto Gilley from one of the many side streets.

“Gilley Avenue from Rumble down to Marine Drive is a death trap for pedestrians and transit users,” he said. “There are no pedestrian crosswalks and it’s very dark with sometimes fast-moving traffic. Bus stops are not well lit and neither are the sidewalks or intersections, creating a very dangerous environment for transit users and pedestrians crossing the street. I have seen cars narrowly miss pedestrians, community shuttle drivers miss pickups because the bus stops are not visible, and few road-rage incidents. I would like to bring this the attention of the city as well as the local media so a safe solution can be found.”

Pickens referenced the pedestrian who was hit crossing at Beresford and Gilley in March 2018 - a pedestrian crossing that was added in this area has made a difference, he said.

But what about the rest of Gilley, Pickens asked.

The good news is that Burnaby council voted to increase spending on sidewalks by $10 million per year to cover the 40 per cent of local roads – 275 kilometres – without a sidewalk on one or both sides. 

But that only addresses sidewalks. Pickens hopes the city traffic department will take another look at Gilley to at least improve the lighting situation.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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