Slow the Cars

Let’s Make Ladner Better for Big Truck Drivers

It’s hard being the driver of a large or oversized pickup truck in Ladner these days. Rising fuel prices, insurance rates, and the price of a lift kit these days make it quite expensive to keep The Beast on the road.

While I can’t offer much help on the financial side of things, I do have several recommendations of ways to design Ladner to be better for our big trucks!

C’mon Delta, we can do better for our truck owners!

Compassionate Action #1: Let’s Help Them to Avoid Cyclists and Pedestrians in Their Many Blind Spots

Neighbourhood streets are tricky places to navigate for big trucks. They’re even trickier to navigate at speeds of 50 km/h and up. Unfortunately, the risk of a collision with a lesser being only increases when there happen to be people walking or cycling on or across the street.

The little white strips of paint that the City insists on adding to the sides of the roadway are good in theory but, let’s be honest, they don’t really help much to keep tires from occasionally straying across them. There’s no bump or warning signal that can be discerned from the cockpit of our big units when we cross those little white lines. It’s almost like these ‘painted bike lanes’ are designed to be driven across without consequence, amirite?

Sure, it’s easy for that taxi to slip past those people on bikes but my truck has extra running boards and a wider wheel base and I just know my odds of clipping them are higher. Isn’t there something that we could do?”

The frustrating thing is that there are people on foot or on their bicycles that can appear suddenly out of nowhere (like magical beings) and make life in a big truck stressful. It shouldn’t be this way.

Well then. Perhaps we should design our streets for big trucks!

Say it With Me: Let’s Design our Streets for Big Trucks

  • We should separate bicycles and pedestrians from the roads where trucks roam.
  • And to do that, we should prioritize every single pedestrian and cycling project for the sake of our big truck owners!

After all, there’s no reason that bicycles should be taking up a strip of expensive reinforced roadway that costs upwards of $4,000/metre to install and maintain. We currently put bicycle lanes on stretches of road that are engineered to support over 25,000 kg. That seems like overkill to me! We know that pathways are suitable for people on bikes and foot, provided they are wide enough for suitable separation.

We have a perfect opportunity to push for these pedestrian and cycling projects to go forward for the sake of our big truck drivers. It’s called the Delta Cycling Master Plan. It’s possible that City Council might be thinking of making miniscule or modest changes to their current practices but we can change that! Please write to your council members to tell them to think big and act quickly to make our streets better!

Or, even sooner, we can all plead with City Council to allocate more of its transportation network funding (ie. road repairs and upgrades budget) to install new separated bike lanes in 2021. We can take most of the money that would otherwise go towards road repair and put it towards cycling projects. Our big trucks will relish the chance to drive on sub-optimal roadways – they’re 4×4 for a reason!

Just think of the trucks and the stress that cyclists and pedestrians in their vicinity are causing to the drivers of these rolling machines – surely we should be ready to take bold action for their sake! While Mr. Money Mustache might take a dim view of big trucks, we’re here to advocate for you! We want to make your driving experience better by funding great pedestrian and cycling projects in our city! With fewer opportunities for your truck to clip the handle-bar of a cyclist or for your bumper to push a pedestrian under your truck, you and your neighbours will sleep more soundly at night.

But the City will have a difficult time getting enough pedestrian and cycling path projects completed in the near future to help to alleviate the problem big truck owners are facing.

Interim Solution: Parking-Protected Bike Lanes

Should we consider alternative, interim solutions? Something that will work for now even if it’s not the best long-term solution?

Who is with me? Let’s do it for the big trucks! Why should they have to be shocked by the presence of little cyclists and pedestrians sharing the road with them?! Don’t you know how hard it is to responsibly drive a truck that is 2 metres wide on streets that have occasional obstacles on them?

Let me propose a maxim: the only thing that can stop a truck on a street is a truck on the street.

Stage 1: Using our existing roads in Ladner, we can paint a parking line on one or both sides of nearly every street in our town. This line doesn’t have to be as fancy as the one above. It can be ONE LINE that is inset 2-3 metres from the curb.

Stage 2: Residents will then know that they should park their car on the road side of the line and leave a lane for cyclists, occasional speedy joggers and COVID-era physical-distancers.

What will this do? It will place a row of 2,800 kg barriers between you, the big truck driver, and the cyclists or pedestrians that you are taking care not to drive into or over. While you’ll still need to be watchful, you will know that the majority of non-motorized users of the street will be next to the curb/sidewalk and not in the main part of the roadway as they are now. You will be able to focus on moving down streets and avoiding parked vehicles – which is something you’re very good at and it’s something that has far less severe consequences if you happen to miscalculate.

This stops very little and costs more than you think
This stops a truck very well and costs nothing at all

After all, the Delta Police and the City of Delta’s Vision Zero team will be quick to agree that:

“For too long, we’ve considered traffic deaths and severe injuries to be inevitable side effects of modern life. Yet ‘accidents’ are tragedies that can be prevented. These are preventable incidents — crashes, but not necessarily accidents — for which proven solutions exist, such as designing roadways, managing speeds, and setting policies that prioritize safety.” (Vision Zero Network)

Can we design safer streets for our big trucks in Ladner?

Yes! It begins with parking-protected bike lanes that will make the main roadway marginally narrower while still giving you enough room to make your way through town unimpeded and in a better state of mind as you won’t have to slip past terrified cyclists as often.

While we’re on the topic of interim measures, I have another proven technique for improving your well-being as a big truck driver in our town: let’s drop the speed limit in town to 30 km/h until we’ve successfully transformed our streets to more fully separate our trucks from the obstacles you have to face right now.

Let me propose a second improvement: drop the speed limit in town to 30 km/h

I didn’t come up with this idea by myself but instead, I sought out information from another city where trucks rule: Edmonton.

They have learned that:

“In about 90 per cent of cases, an adult male body can withstand the force of a collision with a vehicle driven by a person traveling at 30 km/h (though, for children and the elderly with more fragile physiologies, the survivable speed is lower). Increasing speed by what seems like small increments from behind the wheel nonetheless sees large drops in survivability for pedestrians. The same adult male struck by a driver traveling at 45 km/h is eight times less likely to survive. If the driver is traveling at 50 km/h, the collision is almost certainly going to kill the pedestrian.” (Edmonton Journal)

I think that you’ll agree that we can all use some relaxation in our lives and that applies to our streets as well. Why should you be expected to keep your truck cruising down the streets of Ladner at a speed of 50 km/h when there are small children around? It’s only fair and better for you if we would just make it standard to cruise in town at a calm 30 km/h. After all, your lift kit and custom exhaust system wasn’t added so you could outperform everyone in town, was it? You need that raw adrenaline-fueled performance when you’re fording creeks and scaling mountains! When you’re at the race track or the truck rally, right?!

Yet the sign says 50 km/h. That’s not fair. It is basically forcing you to drive a speed that makes it harder to see the vulnerable. You can’t help that the sheer bulk and raw snarl of your truck results in a look of fear on the face of the cyclists you pass!

Well, a reduction of neighbourhood speeds would cost the City of Delta very little to change their signs and publicize the decision to prioritize the health of truckers and moving obstacles alike. Hey, I have a suggestion for you: why don’t you be the first to demonstrate the benefits of this 30 km/h neighbourhood speed?

When I drive 30 km/h right now in my Smart Car or Prius or Fiat (I don’t have the money or guts to drive a big rig like you but I also don’t have the courage to reveal what I actually drive) I get aggressive honks and tailgaters galore. But you in your truck? Well, I’m sure you won’t have any issues with that. Just glower down at the mortals who would try to interfere with your enjoyment of the relaxed experience of passing through a neighbourhood at a speed that removes stress and adds to your visual appreciation of Ladners’ beauties.

“Don’t Rush Me – I’m Relaxed, Happy, and Able to Spot Things that Might Cross My Path”

And guess what?

There’s more!

Further Interventions to Help Our Big Truck Owners

Not only can we help our big rig runners to avoid cyclists and pedestrians in their many blind spots with parking-protected bike lanes and a lowered residential speed limit, what if I told you that we can also help you to avoid the dual sensation of wanting to go faster but knowing that you probably shouldn’t. Ever had that feeling? There’s help for that too! I’ll write another post about that for you.

And there’s more!

We can help our big trucks and their little cousins with another problem too: knowing where it will be convenient to park and walk when you visit the shops and services in Ladner Village so that it can be enjoyable again to visit the Village.

I’ll come back in two more posts with those solutions to the problems that you face. Together we can do this!

Until then, please write to the Mayor and Council to ask them to do all they can to fix our streets for the sake of our big truck drivers (and the inhabitants of Ladner who enter into their roadspace).