Speed humps if necessary, but not necessarily speed humps.
The vehicle-slowing roadway additions were the centre of attention this week as Woolwich council discussed a new traffic-calming report.
Councillors largely lamented an apparent lack of progress in addressing some consistent complaints about speeding and related issues on a variety of township roads.
Woolwich has a process, first adopted in 2015, that does appear to react slowly following public complaints about safety on a given road. Starting with an examination of the street to see if it warrants a study, the township then moves to traffic monitoring: speed information, traffic counts and accident data collection. If a problem is eventually identified, there’s then a two-stage response available.
Stage one involves lane narrowing, painted lines, “slow down” signs, the use of the township’s radar speed trailer, and targeted police enforcement. Stage two would see the use of speed humps, raised crosswalks or extended curbs to narrow the roadway.
The township uses what it calls the three ‘E’s when discussing traffic-calming measures: engineering, education and enforcement. But councillors appeared to take issue with the effectiveness of that approach, particularly the education component.
Pointing to the continuing number of cases of impaired and distracted driving despite a very large public education bid, Coun. Larry Shantz noted at least one of the E’s might not be working.
“Something’s not working. I’m wondering how we can make these streets safer.”
“We have to find better ways to educate the public,” agreed Coun. Patrick Merlihan, who called for an increase in the number of traffic-calming reports and resultant discussion to twice a year instead of annually.
Coun. Murray Martin suggested the township should move more quickly to stage-two measures.
“Speed humps – it’s the only thing that works. If they work in other places, they’ll work here,” he said, pointing to a variety of other municipalities that make extensive use of the devices.
While cautioning against the overuse of speed humps, Kennaley said the township is moving in the direction of more action.
“It’s time to step up our game.”
He noted Kitchener and Waterloo are looking at lowering the standard in-town speed limit to 40 km/h from 50, a move that should boost safety and a precursor to new norms in the region.
For Shantz, however, such changes in the township wouldn’t be useful without regular enforcement, noting speed humps always do the job.
“It’s the permanency of speed humps. It’s there all the time, 24/7.”
Coun. Scott McMillan also suggested more on-road measures to slow traffic, from painted lines to lane narrowing.
“Really, it comes down to one E, and that’s engineering,” he said, suggesting roads should be designed to reduce speed.
For 2019, the township has identified six locations for stage one measures:
- Woolwich Street South (Woolwich Street North – Schiefele Place)
- Benjamin Road (Burning Bush Road – Cheltonwood Crescent)
- St. Charles Street East (Notre Dame Avenue – Pine Creek Road)
- Whippoorwill Drive (Green Warbler Crescent – Grey Owl Drive)
- Oriole Parkway West (Mockingbird Drive – Flamingo Drive)
- Crowsfoot Road (Sawmill Road – St. Charles Street East)