(Concerns have been raised by parents of Holy Spirit students on the safety of crossing the street at the intersection at Beverly Street and Stittsville Main Street with the increased traffic and more expected on the busy main thoroughfare. Photo: Google maps)
Just drive down Stittsville Main to watch students attempting to cross the street at peak times without a crossing guard to attend Holy Spirit Elementary School. Several drivers can be witnessed not stopping as they turn onto Stittsville Main from Beverly, nor providing the right-of-way to the students when they are legally allowed to cross the road. This is more frightful when parents or caregivers are not present to assist the children.
The traffic situation on Stittsville Main has increased substantially over the years and one would think that a crossing guard would have been at the top of official’s minds for the safety of the children attending Holy Spirit. There are other locations in Stittsville where crossing guards are present which is good, but the question still stands as to why a busy location like that on Stittsville Main Street at Beverly is left without someone to assist the children crossing the road.
With a new 71-unit mixed use development to be constructed at 1364-1370 Stittsville Main Street across from Holy Spirit and next to Papa Sam’s restaurant, concerns were again raised with the number of construction vehicles expected in the area.
The developer, DeMarco, and the land owner, Bayview Stittsville Inc., have included as one of their conditions in the approved Site Plan Control Application, that funding would be provided for a crossing guard during the construction period.
“The Owner further acknowledges and agrees that funding for the crossing guard will be required for the duration of excavation and construction on the subject lands for the number of months that coincide with the school year, in a location where a crossing guard is most needed to assist the public in crossing the street.”
However, the need for a crossing guard should be long-term, as there is no doubt that the traffic congestion at Stittsville Main Street and Beverly Street will only increase with the completion of the the 71 unit mixed-use development.
One parent, Sarah, told Stittsville Central, “I usually submit 2-3 traffic reports a week to the Ottawa Police (for vehicles blocking the crosswalk while pedestrians are trying to cross, a vehicle running a red light and vehicles traveling too quickly). Unfortunately I have seen near misses (parents pulling their children back as they cross the street – a few feet away from being hit; or my own personal experience of the front end of my stroller with my baby inside almost being clipped by a vehicle in the intersection). My worry is for the children who are crossing this dangerous intersection without adult support. Even with adult support, we need to be all eyes and ears.
I have been in contact with Glen Gower’s office. They are encouraging me to continue to file traffic reports and sign the petition that the parent council of Holy Spirit has created. They have let me know that the city has added a leading pedestrian signal to the intersection and have refreshed the crosswalk ladder/paintings. They have also let me know that it has been noted that this area is a future candidate for automated speed enforcement (speed camera). I have asked to know the details as to when this will be implemented but I have not heard back. I have also inquired about a red light camera but have not heard back.
They also let me know that for a crossing guard to be determined, it is based on the number of vehicles crossing the same path as the pedestrians. “The traffic safety team counts the number of children crossing the road and also counts the number of vehicles that cross their path during their walk phase… They have reviewed this many times in the past and unfortunately this location does not meet the warrants for a crossing guard given the low volume of vehicles making the left turn off Beverly”. I am wondering why they are only counting the left turn off Beverly…
The traffic safety report was done in the Spring 2022, I have asked for another report to be completed, but have not heard back.
The city was able to tell me the results from the Spring 2022 report: “It’s not a specific number that is required, rather a product of two numbers that needs to be above a value. For signals, Traffic Safety determined that the product value, or what they call exposure value is 2600. For this intersection, it was reviewed in the spring of 2022 and the morning period was found to be the busiest time over the afternoon period which was lighter from a traffic volume perspective. The morning had 40 youth pedestrians crossing the north crosswalk. That is multiplied by the total number of vehicles that can cross their path during their walk phase which is explained above. The total number of vehicles was observed to be 47 with all of them being left turns off Beverly. So, we have 40 peds x 47 vehicles which equals 1880. This falls below the 2600 threshold so a guard isn’t warranted at this time”.
I have noticed that other areas in our neighbourhood have crossing guards (Birdstone and Hobin, Renshaw and Westridge). I am happy that these areas have crossing guards. However, I’m questioning why these intersections warrant a crossing guard while Beverly & Main Streets does not. Many neighbours and friends were shocked that there is no plans for one.
I have two young children under 6 years old, who will be crossing this intersection for the next 8 years to school. Hoping the community can help us raise awareness to make this a safe space to cross,” ended Sarah.
The safety of the children crossing at Beverly and Stittsville Main Streets has been an ongoing issue since Councillor Shad Qadri was in office. He met with city staff at the site and put the following safety measures in place in 2017:
- The intersection of Beverly & Stittsville Main was set to bring-up a pedestrian recall before school and after school. This means that pedestrians do not need to activate the pushbutton to receive the ‘WALK’ display during this time, it will be automatic.
- Recently the crossing area had zebra markings painted on the north side of the intersection for the east-west pedestrian crossing. This is to assist in increasing visibility to the crossing area to all users of the intersection.
- A pedestrian conflict study was undertaken in response to the request for an advanced walk signal. Transportation staff advised that this is not recommended at this time. The pedestrian conflict study undertaken this fall reveals that all 63 pedestrians: activated the pushbutton; began crossing on the ‘WALK’ display; completed their crossing; and received no vehicle interference during their crossing.
- Residents also asked if traffic calming can be done on Beverly Street and traffic staff will be assessing Beverly to determine whether permanent traffic calming measures could be installed.
- The Stittsville Main Street and Beverly Street intersection was also included in the City’s Adult School Crossing Guard review list for the upcoming spring.
- In addition, earlier this year there were school zone markings placed on Stittsville Main Street in the vicinity of the school.
Kelly Ray is bringing awareness to this safety concern with the creation of a petition on behalf of the parents council of Holy Spirit Elementary School to be presented to Councillor Glen Gower, the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Catholic School Board for action to be taken on a long-term basis. You can support the safety of the children and sign the petition at this link.