Hold the stop signs!
Hardly a week goes by that the Bulletin doesn’t receive a letter on speeding or on poor driving habits here in Aylmer.
Ignoring cross walks, school zones, and even stop signs are common complaints. Most often the irate letter writers want more stop signs, speed bumps or police patrols to prevent speeding on residential streets. We certainly can sympathize, and many note that Wilfrid-Lavigne seems to attract more than its share of poor drivers.
Aylmer already has plenty of stop lights, stop signs, and speed bumps – and yet the complaints continue. Can these measures be as effective as we think?
City engineers and planners likely agree. In their list of speed reduction measures, stop signs and stop lights and even speed bumps are near the bottom in terms of cost-effectiveness. That refers to the wider effect of these measures. For example, in requesting more stop signs we must consider the cumulative effect of so much stop-and-go: air pollution, fuel consumption, traffic congestion, and driver frustration – all resulting in costs to any city.
However, the drivers and residents on these streets who complain should pay some attention to this list, and not merely grab the first idea which comes along – like stop signs—without considering their broader effects. The list of speed reduction measures is long, and most have been tried in various cities, even if our own conditions, especially winter, affect our options.
For a few of the alternatives to stop signs, traffic lights, and speed bumps, consider these: speed lumps (as on Frank Robinson), speed cushions, speed tables at intersections, rumble strips which make a noise, unusual pavement textures like cobbles or bricks, patterns painted on pavement, mini traffic circles, a centre line that curves and shifts, obstacles and “pinch points” such as we now see on Rue Principale, including curbs, planters, medians, trees, and anything to make streets narrower like these obstacles, as well as bike lanes, parking, wider sidewalks, plus the oft-requested police presence, crossing guards, portable cameras (laser, radar) and speed indicator signs, not to mention synchronizing traffic lights, more driver education, ads in the media, streets closed to traffic, and even autos which alert drivers to speed limits . . . and that’s to start.
This list is for us, frustrated drivers and worried residents, especially parents. But despite all the technology, speeding and good driving come down to mutual respect and a concern for improving the community where we all live. Streets are necessary, and they are, first, for traffic. They are not playgrounds. Drivers have rights, just as do pedestrians, but drivers are remanipulating tonnes of steel. Mutual respect and cooperation are probably the most effective tool in creating safer streets here in Aylmer. So pause before reaching for the stop-signs option, as if that’s all we have.