Creative commentary plus crafty composition

Speed Ills

Be aware, this may come soon to a street or intersection near you…

Our residential street is under attack from the remote, bureaucratic forces of city hall.  The war room is in the Area Traffic Management department.  If militaristic terms seem a bit harsh, it’s because of the battle we’re facing.

The street is a vital residential route in south Ottawa, its southern point at a multilane east/west thoroughfare, Hunt Club Road.  On either side are a series of homes, town homes, and a couple of apartment buildings, as well as a park and a local shopping centre. As there is no other signage, the current default speed limit is 50 kph.

Apparently, unbeknownst to a great many of us, there have been complaints about traffic speed on our street.  This, somehow, triggered a city traffic study, with highly questionable options proposed during an open house for area residents on November 17th.  The options include a combination of: speed bumps on the street, reducing street widths at a busy intersection, and installing ‘narrowings’, the euphemism for indenting the street with sections of expanded sidewalk.  Amazingly, the speed data primarily is dated 2002 and 2009.

My spouse and I were aghast when confronted with the graphs depicting the convoluted data and drastic solutions proposed. Attempts to clarify the reasoning and proposals were met with bureaucratic jargon and unresponsiveness, especially when confronted with questions such as:

  • Why use such outdated data as the basis for conclusions about speed currently?
  • Why was there no provision for the pending impact of community mail boxes on space requirements or traffic patterns?
  • Why was the negative effect discounted on larger vehicular traffic in particular, including two bus routes, on the proposed narrowing of the intersection? Why wasn’t the installation of a traffic light at the increasingly busy intersection being considered?
  • Why wasn’t the impact on drivers of the road being effectively narrowed by snow build up in the winter considered?
  • Why penalize the area inhabitants with permanent discomfort and questionable safety?
  • Where were the statistics indicating there was a serious issue to trigger the proposed actions? In our many years living along the street, we have seen occasional serious speeding, and are not aware of any traumatic accidents causing bodily injury or worse on this stretch.

Why wouldn’t the city staff suggest a simple reduction of the speed limit?  Since the installation on the northbound side of a flashing speed tracker, I’ve witnessed drivers slowing and staying slower.

Perhaps most importantly insofar as feedback, why the deadline for public feedback of two weeks after the open house, i.e. tomorrow December 1st, when the first pilot project doesn’t start until next spring?

I have advised neighbours of the significance of this pending intrusion, which could ultimately negatively affect our property values.  I’ve also emailed the project coordinator, with a copy to our new city councillor.  Hopefully, the narrow-minded, big brother, ivory tower mentality which seems to be infusing this project will unclench, so that more informed voices will be heard before it’s too late.

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