Keep Calm and Drive Over

For some reason the City of Ottawa installed traffic calming devices on my street a couple of weeks ago. There was no warning, no consultation with the community, just the installation of black and yellow dividers in the middle of the street.IMG_20160612_171710

I’m assuming the intent is to slow traffic, though I’ve never noticed speed to be a problem. In fact, the only traffic problem I’ve noticed on the street is in winter when occasionally one of the city’s articulated buses will get stuck in the snow and block traffic.  That’s a design problem, not the street’s fault.

So to fix a non-existent problem the city has installed traffic hazards. I fail to see the logic of that.

It is a wide street with parking allowed on the west side. Whoever decided to install the markers didn’t take that into account. The end result is that one of the lanes is now very narrow. In theory drivers would slow down to ensure they don’t clip a parked car and take off a side mirror.

Practice and theory are of course very different.IMG_20160612_171718

Instead of slowing down to thread their way between the markers and the parked cars‎, drivers are veering into the other lane and passing the markers on the left not the right as some city planner presumably intended. That seems to be the universal response. People aren’t slowing down, just driving on the wrong side of the road. Which isn’t really a problem because the street really doesn’t have that much traffic, and drivers aren’t in a rush.

Except for the city buses.

Unlike the rest of us, those vehicles are on a schedule. The drivers don’t want to slow down. Like everyone else, they veer into the other lane. Unless there is ongoing traffic. In that case they just drive right over the markers.

I have to admit I haven’t seen it myself. I have seen the buses swerve into the wrong lane to pass the markers. But I don’t spend my time watching and waiting for a bus to come by.

One of my neighbours has seen it though. She was drawn by the noise that was created as bus met marker. And you can see in the design of the markers that someone expected such collisions. They are designed to swivel and pivot, to be pressed down and snap back up. You can see by the marks on them that it has happened more than once.

So I don’t see what the point was. Except that someone has addressed a non-existent problem, kept city workers employed, and possibly made the street less safe I the process. What were they thinking?


One comment

  1. […] June I wrote about the surprise introduction of traffic calming measures on my street. Given that municipal buses were driving over the flex stakes screwed into the […]

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