Gaglardi needs protected bike lanes and more consideration from drivers

A fatal accident reveals the safety hazard facing the cyclists in our community

A memorial near the accident site honours the cyclist who was killed. Photo by Chris Ho/The Peak

By: Nicole Magas, Opinions Editor

On June 29, a cyclist was struck and killed by a vehicle on Gaglardi Way. The incident is undoubtedly a tragedy, and doubly unsettling due to its proximity to our university community, but it’s not surprising. Anyone who commutes up and down the mountain by any form of transportation can easily see that the cyclist/vehicle relationship on Gaglardi is an accident waiting to happen.

High speeds on the winding road are such an issue that a speed trap was installed to politely remind motorists that the speed limit is 60 km/h. This has hardly stopped drivers from whipping down the mountain as though they are fleeing a Hollywood-style natural disaster, however. Even some of the buses zip down Gaglardi at white-knuckle speeds. And all the while, the cyclists who share the roads have only a white line of symbolic safety to protect them on a road that both encourages dangerous driving and has poor visibility conditions. 

Gaglardi Way is a popular road for cyclists who use it to commute to the university or take advantage of the many hiking trails that branch off from the street. Why then, on a road with frequent dangerous driving conditions and a high population of unprotected commuters, are there not secure bike lanes to delineate a clear boundary between motor vehicle traffic and cyclists? This is not the first time this question has been raised, and it certainly won’t be the last, as the City of Burnaby admits that implementing such infrastructure changes isn’t currently in the plans.

To be fair, the responsibility isn’t on the City of Burnaby alone. Drivers also need to be more aware and considerate of other people sharing the road space, including cyclists, pedestrians, and individuals in motorized wheelchairs. The accident on June 29 was the fifth serious pedestrian road accident Burnaby has suffered in the month of June alone. The temptation to dominate road spaces from a place of relative safety needs to be addressed among motor vehicle drivers so that more vulnerable travelers aren’t put at risk by aggressive or inconsiderate driving practices.

SFU has an active cycling community, nurtured by the beautiful scenery we are surrounded by, a keen sense of environmental preservation, and the more well-developed cycling infrastructure in neighbouring municipalities. 

But our detached location on Burnaby Mountain also distances us somewhat from the public safety concerns that occur in more dense urban environments. Until the City of Burnaby physically makes roads safer for cyclists, we must demand that motorists respect the rules of the road, and all the people who share the space with them.