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Someone could die here: Pedestrian

After near miss, Angela Pong warns that busy Richmond crosswalk is an accident waiting to happen

It only took a few seconds, but it almost took the life of Angela Pong.

One moment Pong was assessing the dangers of setting foot on a particularly tricky crosswalk in Richmond’s City Centre neighbourhood, the next she had broken down in tears telling her husband how she almost got killed.

A couple of inches separated Pong and serious injury, or worse, after she stepped onto the Ackroyd Road crossing, halfway between No. 3 and Cooney roads, which is sandwiched between no less than six exits/entrances in a short, 150-yard stretch.

She had waited patiently for traffic to stop, as she does every day, and felt sure it was safe to cross when a car heading west “came out of nowhere” and sped through the crossing with Pong already a couple of steps on.

But although this was undoubtedly Pong’s closest call to date, she says she takes her life in her hands every single day using the crosswalk, which is right outside her office at the Richmond News.

“I stood there for between 30 seconds and a minute, waiting for the traffic to stop,” described Pong, an integrated media consultant at the News.

“I spotted the car way down the road to my left, which has just turned onto Ackroyd from Cooney. But it was a long way away, heading west.

“A car, to my right, heading east, stopped for me and I paused for a second because I could see a truck, also to my right, trying to leave a parking spot close by; I was worried he might try to cut inside the car that was stopped.

“But he stopped and I started to walk slowly onto the crosswalk when someone screamed. At that second, the car to my left, which only a few seconds ago was about 150 yards away, whipped a couple of inches past me.

“He had absolutely no intention to stop and people, I don’t know who, were yelling at him.”

Pong said she froze with fear on the crosswalk. “All I remember was that it was a white sedan.”

She continued over to her intended destination of PriceSmart foods, but had now forgotten what she was going over there for.

“All I could think was that I almost got killed. I was still shaking,” she recalled.

“I met my husband in the parking lot and, as I was telling him what happened, I broke down in tears. It took to the next day to get over it; it was so close.”

This Google satellite image shows the eight distractions (entrance/exits/parking/crosswalk) in a short 150-yard space on Ackroyd Road

Indeed, in the two minutes it took the News to line up Pong for the photo you see on this page, at least eight cars failed to stop for pedestrians at the crossing. That’s one every 15 seconds.

And most members of the News’ staff have either experienced something similar to Pong or witnessed it from the office’s second floor balcony, which overlooks the crossing.

“Someone is going to get seriously injured or killed,” said Pong.

“They need to put pedestrian-controlled lights there or something, because the drivers clearly can’t see, or don’t want to see, that crossing.

“There are just too many things going on in that area; there are too many distractions.”

City of Richmond spokesperson Ted Townsend told the News, via email, that the city has received at least one complaint about the intersection.

However, the issue, said Townsend is likely “driver behaviour not intersection design,” adding that the design is standard for the type of intersection.

Townsend said, after checking with Richmond RCMP’s Road Safety Unit, there are no “active complaints for the area.”

However, with pedestrian safety obviously being a concern, police say they will be including the location in upcoming pedestrian safety blitzes.