A pedestrian was sent to hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries after being hit by a car on 96th Avenue just east of Scott Road on Christmas Eve. A witness at the scene said the pedestrian was trying to cross the street outside of the marked crosswalk. The driver remained on scene. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)


LETTERS: Don’t blame Surrey’s pedestrians for city’s horrible walkability

Readers say editorial about jaywalking should have pointed finger at Surrey’s successive leaders

The Editor,

Re: “Pedestrians must be smarter,” the Now-Leader editorial, Dec. 25th.

While casualties, injuries and especially deaths are tragic, the jaywalking problem lies directly at the feet of successive Surrey councillors over several changes in municipal governments, regardless of their political allegiance, stripe or slate.

Surrey is one of the most unwalkable cities in North America, and certainly one of the worst in the Lower Mainland.

Here’s why:

  • The blocks in Surrey are very long – about a kilometre or more in most places. This makes walking to the next traffic light a test of endurance, rather than the mundane affair it should be, especially if one is in a hurry or carrying groceries
  • City planning and zoning is awful. I live less than a five-minute drive from City Centre, but nary is there a 24-hour store or fast food restaurant within reasonable walking distance. In Surrey, the community “corner store” has been dead for a while. When I lived in New Westminster, a walk to the community corner store (or later 7-11) was something I did sometimes multiple times a day. It made more sense to walk than to drive. Not in Surrey – a round trip to the store in New Westminster took me 15 minutes on foot. In Surrey, it takes up to 25 to 30 minutes on a good day.
  • Sidewalks – evidently successive councils have not heard of them. A huge number of streets in Surrey don’t have sidewalks, or they only have sidewalks on one side with a gravel shoulder on the other side. There is a “bike lane” near Gateway SkyTrain Station across King George that goes for all of 30 feet, then terminates.
  • Traffic control. New Westminster has traffic controlled zones in residential areas. In Surrey, every street is a main street, causing noise, pollution, rat racing to avoid traffic. People in a hurry tend to speed, especially if they have to go off the most efficient route to avoid traffic (see next point).
  • Because it is so unwalkable, to live in Surrey means you need to have a car. In many areas, bus service is horrific, with one bus per hour and many of them being full (because they won’t put a full size bus on the route).
  • Finally, the streets in Surrey are just not safe. We have drive-by shootings, muggings resulting in death, killings, break ins – the whole gamut. Therefore, people want to stay on the streets for the shortest amount of time possible, hence they jaywalk. Personally, I’d recommend implementing martial law in a 25-block radius from 96th Avenue to 116th Avenue from 145th Street to 120 Street but human rights advocates would say that infringes on human rights. The taxpaying residents, I’m sure, would much rather see military personnel carding everyone than having streets littered with drug dealers and addicts.

There’s a lot of work to be done here. I moved back after 20 years of leaving this city for New Westminster, and I was astounded that it not only hadn’t gotten any better – but had gotten worse.

Kris Taylor, Surrey

• • •

It’s not pedestrians’ fault that Surrey is devoted cars

The Editor,

Re: “Pedestrians must be smarter,” the Now-Leader editorial, Dec. 25th.

I was dismayed to read your editorial trying to blame pedestrian deaths in our city on jaywalking.

The deaths you pointed out all occurred at intersections. You seem to acknowledge this, yet still focus on blaming pedestrians instead of blaming a city devoted to and planned around cars.

We need a city devoted to humans – to people walking, taking transit, biking. Passenger vehicles lead to many deaths due to humans being imperfect at piloting multi-ton hunks of metal at high speeds.

Making alternative modes of transportation more attractive will save lives, the environment, time, and any sense of a livable city.

Please use your voice to advocate for that, and not moralizing against victims and something that might not even exist.

Dr. John-Jose Nunez, Surrey


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