Cuckooing over push-button light

Cuckooing over push-button light

The District of Maple Ridge says it wants to make roads safer for pedestrians. Good, but talk’s cheap.

Another pedestrian was struck down this past week at 124th Avenue and 224th Street.

In June, an 88-year-old woman was hit in the same area.

Back then I noted the death of two older folks on Dewdney Trunk near 222nd in 2010, and suggested pedestrian push lights.

Even drivers who need multi-sensory clues – and we have lots of those – can’t miss the cuckoos, whistles, chirps, tweets, and flashing numerals indicating seconds left to cross.


In White Rock, my mother-in-law’s town, there’s five push-buttons along North Bluff Road (16th Ave.).

Paul Slack, operations manager, told me: “The City of White Rock and council’s priority is safety for our residents and visitors. City staff are always looking to find better solutions to potential safety issues.”

A traffic engineer said both seniors and drivers love the lights. In addition to saving lives, they move traffic. Until someone pushes the button, lights flash green.

Maple Ridge wants to talk. In August, Andrew Wood, municipal engineer, told me he’d host a “forum” in September to get ideas about what could be done here.

A meeting is now set for Oct. 20.

Coun. Cheryl Ashley tells me governance moves “at glacial speed.”

Unlike drivers in Maple Ridge.

Ask Bonnie Klovance, a senior who’s campaigned for  reduced speed limits along 224th. Bonnie says 600 seniors live from Brown Avenue to 121st;  there’s 2,300 Legion members, and 1,200 patrons of the senior’s centre.

She humbly asked for one pedestrian light. Initially, Bonnie approached the RCMP with that idea, and a 30 km/h limit. The police were “nice,” she reported, but wouldn’t back her wishes with council.

Adding injury to insult, district engineer, Michael Eng suggested seniors hold out their arms to stop traffic.

“That made me so mad,” said Bonnie. “Doesn’t he know we do that?”

So, why don’t we have the push button lights?

Wood told me the current district safety plan calls for one in 2013. He admits some seniors won’t live to push the buttons.

“They’re expensive, Jack,” Woods told me recently, “about $200,000.”

Surrey’s senior traffic technologist has shopped around and gotten a better deal.

“The cost is about $80,000,” said Ken Lee, “but that includes the buttons. That’s from top to bottom – and if there’s nothing there in place already.”

That’s the Polaris, the Cadillac-version-push-button light, Lee says. “It cuckoos and chirps when pushed north-south, or east-west.”

It gets better. Here’s Lee: “If you upgrade or retrofit existing lights, it’s just $2,000 per unit. At a four-way intersection, you might need eight of these; two times eight, or $16,000.”

Wow, Maple Ridge could enter the modern age of traffic safety. Inquiries can be made with the supplier, Astrographics at 604-596-1731.

Every town except Maple Ridge has called already. Lee told me Burnaby only installs the push button variety.

Do we need a ‘forum,’ or should we just ‘get ‘er done?’

Klovance says start with improved sidewalks, “handicapped” signage; trim plants in the median at 121st.

“A little old lady can’t be seen crossing the road,” Bonnie says.

That’s becoming much too obvious.


Bits and bites

• Attended a preview of the ACT’s 2012 season and was blown away by the talent the board has lined up. Don’t drive to Vancouver for good theatre, dance, and music. It’s right here.

• The public launch of the Golden Ears Transition Initiative, Saturday, the 24th  was a huge success. Loved the Raging Grannies. GETI is making its town a better place to live in (

Cinema Politica began it’s new season of films about important social issues with Mel Hurtig’s Who Killed Canada, a denouncement of federal domestic and global economic policies that reduce social spending while increasing the gap between the rich and the poor. “We aren’t the country we think we are,” Hurtig, founder of the Council of Canadians, told a full room of folks who’ve decided to “join the conversation” to change that.

• On the Ridunkulist:  In July, airport officials said I could take an unopened tube of toothpaste on my flight to Toronto if I squeezed 30 ml into the men’s room sink. Two guys eyed me suspiciously. I was glad it wasn’t Preparation H. Got back in line to find security frisking my 82-year-old mother-in-law. She wasn’t happy.

• Bill Pearson says seven new volunteers at the last Community Dinner and great support from the Food Bank. Super.

• A bizarre encounter with a beaver on Blaney Creek as I sat on my kayak at dusk. It emerged from a shady pool, and unaware of my presence, circled towards me. It was about three feet away when I decided to introduce myself. My ankles might look like twigs to nibble on. Beaver looked up when I dropped my camera bag an inch from his nose, then, like a swimmer making a turn in the pool, he kicked off and disappeared. I have a picture to prove this.

• Gordon Campbell? It makes more sense to honor citizens locally than in a Liberal elitist club. Let me know who you think we should thank for improving life here and why in a Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Honour Role

Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist in Maple Ridge.