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Opinion: Burnaby (sadly) turns down fixes to this notorious ratrunner route

Residents on both ends of this road want solutions
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Duthie Avenue just north of Broadway.

More people are fed up with the situation on one of Burnaby’s most notorious ratrunner routes.

The NOW has written before about Duthie Avenue, but in relation to the far north end of the street which is used by ratrunners to find a quicker way to get onto the Barnet.

“Quality of life is not enjoyable, listening to the traffic continuously,” Audrey Flagel told the NOW in 2018. “I might as well be sitting on a highway.”

In the six years she’s lived in the housing complex between Duthie Avenue and Barnet Highway, Flagel said the amount of traffic has increased dramatically. Commuters take Duthie to access Barnet via Ridge Drive, she says. 

It’s the high volume and speeds of vehicles on Duthie that bothers Flagel and her neighbours, 40 of whom signed a petition presented to the City of Burnaby’s public safety committee asking that the access to the Barnet be closed off so ratrunners won’t cut through.

“We've become an extension of Barnet Highway,” she said. “When I open my windows, it feels like the traffic is coming through my place.”

That request was turned down.

Now, residents on the far south side of Duthie are asking the City of Burnaby to make some changes to slow down these drivers.

“It would be nice to have changes made to the whole thing, but I notice that the main problem is between Montecito and Broadway,” wrote Wylie in an email to me. “Drivers that turn on to Duthie from Broadway accelerate very quickly after the stop signs. Also, after the school zone, if any attention is needed at all, they race toward the Broadway/Duthie intersection.”

Another resident along this section actually wrote to the city describing the issue and recommending changes.

“Over the years that I have been living here, the excessive speeding problems on my street have progressively gotten worse,” wrote the resident. “I am now apprehensive of taking my two-year-old grandchild for walks in front of my home as I fear for his safety. Part of the issue is that motorists seem to use Duthie Avenue on their commute between Vancouver/Burnaby and the Coquitlam/Port Moody areas. The reason they use Duthie Avenue is that options have already been limited on other city streets in Burnaby. For example, traffic-calming measures have been introduced on Cliff Avenue (speed humps). Some possible measures to ease traffic could include speed humps, a new speed limit, or radar speed signs to provide feedback to motorists.”

In response to the letter, the city responded with an email that was provided to me. The city noted said speed humps won’t be happening.

“As per the City’s policy, the speed humps are placed only on local residential streets and at non bus routes,” wrote a traffic technician. “Duthie Ave is classified as Major collector and is a bus route too therefore speed humps cannot be placed.”

The email also rejects the request for additional signage, but also puts the focus of any solutions on police and residents.

“The speeding concerns that you have largely relate to driver behaviour. In these circumstances, Police enforcement is one of the more effective remedies, but they are subject to available resources and priorities. In addition, the poor driver behaviour you witness on your street probably occurs at many other locations by the same driver making the same infractions. As speeding is a compliance issue that is best dealt through enforcement, we suggest you contact RCMP at their non-emergency number 604-646-9999 to request enforcement.”

“It's so demoralizing getting an email like that from the city,” Wylie said.

The whole thing is really unfortunate. I get the point about the humps but telling people it’s up to them to contact police and get some action feels a little cold. I think the city should be concerned about people turning onto Duthie from Broadway and racing up the street and through a school zone. Ratrunners aren’t known for respecting school zones.

I still think closing off the access to Barnet would help, although many of these drivers are trying to get to the Burnaby Mountain Parkway to go up and over the mountain to get into Coquitlam.

It’s all a big race on the daily commute, but it puts people’s lives at risk.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.