Lack of response from Waterloo Region officials prompts woman to take her message online
The Tuesday afternoon traffic was peaking on St. Charles Street when Bloomingdale resident Audrey O’Hearn stepped out of her Greenwood Road home with a disapproving look at the vehicles whooshing past.She’s got loads of advice for Waterloo Region administrators, but so far there’s been no action on the residents’ safety concerns.
“Looking differently at our roads is the answer. It’s not just for commuters; we live here, we pay taxes here and you have to start considering our safety and our health,” she said of municipal officials.
O’Hearn’s calls for speed bumps and other traffic-calming measures on St. Charles Street, a regional road, have gone unheeded. Now, she’s taken her battle online through her new website, www.stopspeedinginwoolwich.weebly.com, and red signage that tells drivers to: “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here.” The website features several videos of speeding cars and clips of street noise.
“What I have found frustrating in dealing with various levels of government and people is that if the problem doesn’t affect them directly, then it doesn’t exist. I have started the website in the hope of changing that mentality,” she said.
The biggest worry is children’s safety. St. Charles Street abuts Koinonia Christian School located at the Sawmill Road intersection, and school buses stop on St. Charles Street, where about 10 local students from Greenwood Road and Salisbury Crescent catch a ride.
“I see the kids get off and [drivers] just drive on the shoulder and keep passing the school bus. That happens all the time. We’re waiting for another incident like in Erbsville,” she said, referring to New Hamburg’s Lydia Herrle, who was struck by a truck while exiting a school bus in May 2012.
The 50-kilometre speed limit sign is not enough to curb fast-moving cars on open rural roads she maintains, adding “if it looks like a highway, people will drive like they are on one.”
O’Hearn and fellow residents have little faith in the Waterloo Regional Police Service’s Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP), which promotes traffic safety in the region, as officers are seldom seen in Bloomingdale at peak traffic times.
Feeling snubbed by the region, she has spoken with Woolwich councillor Bonnie Bryant on the broader issue of speed on rural roads.
“Some time ago, I brought the issue to the attention of the township’s engineering staff to find out how we could assist in the process. Engineering staff made contact with the appropriate regional staff on the matter and, as a result, the region is going to commission a traffic study and analysis on St Charles Street to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issue at hand,” Bryant said this week.
Watching cars whiz by her home every day as commuters prefer to take a shortcuts through St. Charles Street to avoid a congested Highway 7, she wants to see speed bumps in the residential zone.
“The region did lengthen the 50-kilometre per hour zone to encompass the entire residential area,” said Mike Jones, the region’s supervisor of transportation. He admits that vehicles on rural roads can travel faster as they try to reduce their speed in residential areas from 80 to 50 kph.
It’s the reason Bloomingdale won’t be seeing the speed bumps anytime soon, he added.
“Typically we don’t recommend speed bumps on regional roads because speeds on regional roads are generally higher and vehicles travelling at high speeds may hit the speed bump and become airborne.”
Speed bumps also pose problems for emergency vehicles, which are slowed down or risk damage while responding to calls.