EDITOR’S NOTE: The “Please Stop For Us” signs are sprouting up like wild parsnip all over Stittsville and other parts of the city. The sign pictured above is on a lamp post across the street from Par-La-Ville Park in Fairwinds, right under a stop sign that nearby residents say is routinely ignored by motorists.
Here’s a guest post from Ottawa writer Jonathan McLeod, who says these signs are a symbol of failed policy and road design. (This post was originally published on his blog on August 3.)
Recently, the city launched a new campaign to help make our streets safer. I’m not sure what you’d call it. It’s not really a safety campaign, and it’s not really an awareness campaign. Truly, it’s just an admission of guilt. The city has built horribly dangerous roads, but are willing to make nothing but the most facile gestures towards fixing them.
The project is called Slow down for us! It appears to consist of putting up lawn signs that read “Slow down for us!” and show kids playing. It’s a worthwhile message: let’s not kill children.
First, the good news; councillors are getting behind this project. Many councillors have been out putting up these signs, distributing them to residents and advertising the initiative. It’s good to see councillors getting on board with safety initiatives.
That’s it. There’s nothing else good about this project. The only reason we resort to asking residents to put up signs exhorting motorists to slow down and stop running over kids is because we over-build our roads, rely on car-centric neighbourhood design and do next to nothing to stop or punish dangerous drivers.
I would implore any councillor who has backed the Slow down for us! campaign to also back measures that will make our streets substantively safer. Any councillor who is willing to hand out these signs, but isn’t willing to do anything to actually curb traffic speed and volumes is a hypocrite.
Here’s what needs to be done: road diets, narrower lanes, wider sidewalks, raised crosswalks or intersections, bike lanes, speed bumps, bulb outs, tree cover, lower speed limits, traffic lights programmed to favour walking and bicycling…the list goes on.
However, if you value three minutes of commuting time over the safety children, handing out these signs is little more than a lie.