A Richmond resident wants to see a part of the trail at Francis Road paved over to help reduce traffic volumes on his residential street.
Yonghua Ge, who lives at Bissett and Arvida drives – near No. 4 and Francis roads – says the amount of traffic on Bissett Drive raises concerns about the safety of his daughter and others in the neighbourhood, and is affecting “the life of the people living on the street.”
He launched a petition on Change.org, calling on the city to pave over the Francis Road Trail – which extends from the Shell Road Trail and is bordered on one side by the Agricultural Land Reserve – between No. 4 Road and Arrowsmith Drive to combat the issue.
However, Barbara Zeigler, who lives in the area, explained in a letter to the News that she is against the idea of paving over the trail – which she’s walked along for nearly 40 years, allowing her to exercise daily close to her home and “feel part of the diverse community” in which she lives.
“Such a change would impact all the people who currently benefit daily from the trail and eliminate the wildlife inhabiting one of the remaining Richmond ditches adjacent to the trail,” Zeigler wrote. “Residents on the north side of Bissett Drive would also be forced to have a vehicular road on both the front and the back of their homes, an anomaly in Richmond.”
She argued there are other ways to address the safety and traffic concerns, such as installing speed bumps and signage, and modifying street parking regulations.
Ge said that of particular concern is the “deceptive” curve, with limited vision, where Bissett and Arvida meet, which isn’t suitable for high traffic volumes. He added there’s been “many near collisions” outside of his house.
While Bissett Drive is a “very small road,” it’s stressed by heavy traffic, Ge said – particularly when people are heading to work and school. He noted he thinks the design of the area is “problematic.”
And, while there are other access points to No. 4 Road in the neighbourhood, Bissett Drive is the most direct route to get out which “creates a kind of bottleneck.”
“It feels like it’s unfair for the residents of Bissett to take upon all the traffic of the neighbourhood.”
The News reached out to the city for more information, including how many complaints there have been in the area and whether staff have conducted any studies of traffic along Bissett Drive, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
In his petition, Ge proposes the city pave the stretch of the Francis Road Trail between No. 4 Road and Arrowsmith Drive, which he believes would solve the issue.
“That would definitely reduce a lot of the traffic going on Bissett, but it also gives people easier access to No. 4 Road because it’s a straight road,” he said. “I think that will not only bring safety but also really the kind of quietness and peacefulness that is needed back to the community.”
Ge said he also surveyed other neighbours in the area to see what they thought of the idea and shared his petition with them. So far, the online petition has 181 signatures out of its goal of 200.
While Zeigler noted in her letter opposing the petition that the curved section of Bissett Drive near Arvida Drive is “quite a treacherous corner ” in the mornings and evenings for pedestrians and motorists – with a hedge obstructing visibility and people parking on both sides of the narrow street – there may be other ways to make the residential street safer, which don't involve turning part of the trail “along side the blueberry fields into a concrete road.”
She told the News there is also a gas line under part of the trail.
Zeigler suggested speed bumps and pavement markings indicating a reduced speed, particularly at the Arvida and Bissett corner, “selective trimming” of the hedge there, modifying street parking regulations on the corner and additional signage to alert people there may be children and to go slow.
Furthermore, she said, Bissett Drive residents could contact the city about other solutions that don’t involve destroying a section of the trail.
While Ge said those solutions may help – and that he’s also asked the city to install speed bumps – they wouldn’t get rid of the traffic volume, particularly at the corner.
“Those two things can go alongside…but ultimately I think a more permanent solution is to divert much of the traffic and make Bissett a much quieter residential road.”
He said there could still be a walking path along either side of the paved section as well.
Once he reaches 200 signatures, Ge said he would like to meet with the city’s transportation department to discuss the issue and his proposal to pave the Francis Road Trail.