Downtown four-way stop is here to stay

The four-way stop at the intersection of Shoppers Row and 10th Avenue will become a permanent fixture

The four-way stop at the intersection of Shoppers Row and 10th Avenue will become a permanent fixture even though there is not enough traffic to warrant it.

The four-way, created to help motorists navigate detours during construction on St. Ann’s and Alder, has remained in place even though the detours are long gone.

That’s because council had been considering whether to keep the four-way stop or revert it back to a two-way stop.

Drew Hadfield, the city’s transportation manager, said staff reviewed and conducted traffic counts at the intersection twice – once during the detour and once in January after the roads were re-opened – and the amount of traffic does not warrant a four-way stop.

“Volumes in 2014 are 30 per cent lower than volumes from 2008,” Hadfield said in a report to council.

“Total entering volumes during the noon peak hour in 2008 were 1,196 and in 2014 are 835. The current directional split is 76 per cent traffic flowing along Shoppers Row, and 24 per cent traffic flowing along 10th or Tyee Plaza. This usually does not support a four-way stop.”

Having said that, Hadfield said city staff do believe the positives of keeping the four-way stop outweigh the negatives.

Hadfield noted that traffic in the downtown core should be flowing slowly because of motorists trying to pull in and out of the parallel parking spots that line Shoppers Row and the amount of pedestrians crossing Shoppers.

A four-way stop slows traffic and provides for a less intimidating crossing for those pedestrians, Hadfield said.

“The installation of the four-way stop at this location may create minor inconveniences to vehicles, however, it is to the greater benefit of the pedestrians in this central downtown location. The provision of a safer crossing situation for pedestrians is a benefit for the whole community.”

While ICBC data shows this location has an average of one collision per year, a relatively low number, consultation with the Downtown Business Improvement Association confirms that there is a general consensus to install a permanent four-way stop at the intersection for improved access, Hadfield said.

Council made the decision at its Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday.