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Williams Lake city councillor pushing for safety improvements along Highway 20

Coun. Joan Flaspohler wants to see improvements for active transportation safety

A city councillor is hoping colleagues will support her push to improve active transportation safety in a dangerous part of travel in Williams Lake.

On the agenda for the Nov. 21 council meeting is the recommendation from Coun. Joan Flaspohler regarding proposed improvements to Highway 20 for safe active transportation and Clean BC 2030 initiatives be received, and a letter be written to the environment and transportation ministers urging them to work together to make improvements.

The area Flaspohler is targeting is the stretch of Highway 20 from South Lakeside to Mackenzie Avenue, where there are two bridges and little room for cyclists or those trying to walk.

“Active transportation in this area is extremely difficult; the public feels unsafe once they reach Highway 20. It is a complete bottleneck and challenging for any means of active transportation,” Flaspohler reports in a letter to council. “The City of Williams Lake has already established active transportation trails on the neighbouring municipal roads. Both Mackenzie Avenue and South Lakeside Drive have trails, but the provincial infrastructure does not even have proper development for pedestrians let alone a safe area for travel with bicycles. There are sidewalks on the bridges, but few areas to travel safely in between.”

Flaspohler credits the Streets for All group in Williams Lake with bringing the issue to the forefront through events such as ‘pedal with politicians.’

“It became really apparent,” Flaspohler said of riding the area herself. “This is not okay.”

“It’s that critical infrastructure that links everything.”

Flaspohler also points out the significant volume of large industrial traffic on the route, which brings with it dirt, wood chips, and tree bark that line the sides of the road.

“In addition, industrial vehicles passing by is very intimidating. I truly am fearful when I see someone trying to travel it by foot or by bike. I recently saw a bicyclist pulling a child bike chariot carrier on this route, and got a knot in my stomach.”

Flaspohler has met with interested community groups plus the local Ministry of Transportation representative, and has discussed some of the challenges and potential changes that could happen to improve the area and address the safety and access issues.

She also lobbied for the improvement while at UBCM.

“I feel some safety initiatives could be accomplished quickly, such as extending the paved area, relocating the concrete barriers for not only vehicles but active transportation users, creating a safer passageway where it is narrow, and increasing the budget for this area for road byproduct cleanup,” Flaspohler notes in her report, which also includes several photographs depicting the challenges of the area such as;

Limited space for cyclists and inability to dismount safely to access pedestrian section of bridge.

Limited space, debris, and challenges for pedestrians.

Highway 20 and MacKenzie Avenue intersection preventing pedestrians, bikes, and individuals with disabilities from activating button for crosswalk.

Concrete barrier placement hindering active transportation.

City council is expected to discuss the report at council Tuesday evening, Nov. 21.

Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

Angie Mindus is the managing editor of the Williams Lake Tribune and the Weekend Advisor.
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