(FILE PHOTO: Speed sign on Hobin Street, near A. Lorne Cassidy school. Photo by Barry Gray.)
Eric Darwin writes a must-read local blog called West Side Action. It’s focused on urban issues near his home in central Ottawa, but a lot of what he writes about can be applied to neighbourhoods all over the city.
Case in point: A recent post about some creative ideas for traffic calming. A lot of Stittsville streets have a problem with
vehicles drivers travelling too fast, especially West Ridge, Fringewood, Kittiwake, Alon, Maple Grove, Rosehill, Hobin, Liard, Stittsville Main, Iber, Amberwood… I could go on and on.
We’ve seen some limited attempts at traffic calming in Stittsville, mostly those flex posts in the centre of the street, or “SLOW DOWN” painted in white on the roadway. There’s a $40,000 yearly budget in each ward for this kind of thing, but that doesn’t go very far at all.
Darwin says we need to get creative: “If our city traffic committee had any guts, instead of just ‘considering’ stuff that filters up from the bureaucrats, they’d pre-approve a menu of simple paint and portable measures to be supplied and installed anywhere the community can convince the councillor to authorize them. If they don’t calm the traffic, nothing ventured nothing gained. Try something else.”
A few of his ideas:
- Paint the road narrower. City policy requires a 10-foot minimum lane width, but a lot of our neighbourhood roads are much wider than that. A simple line of paint creates the impression of a narrower road, and does slow traffic.
- Temporary “bulb-outs”. That’s where the road gets narrower at the intersection, giving pedestrians a shorter width to cross, and forcing cars to slow down. Permanent bulb-outs can be expensive, but Darwin suggests temporary cones or planters in the meantime.
- Add a median. Those ubiquitous flex posts are ok, but you could do even better with something less flexible! Maybe a row of planters with trees down the middle, or again, just some simple paint. “Nothing like the fear of denting some sheet metal to encourage compliance,” he writes.
For decades, cities and developers built neighbourhood roads with the goal of moving cars as fast as possible in and out of the subdivision. We need to shift the balance to focus on pedestrian safety first. Implementing a few simple ideas like these ones will start accellerate that shift.
You can read his full post here: