Traffic Calming is Hard

The traffic calming trial measures in Pleasantview are coming out soon. We’ve heard overwhelmingly from from the residents of this community that these measures have not worked. In fact, in a Banister survey, 93% of residents felt the measures made the community less safe. More importantly, the early traffic count data was striking. Our hope was the original high volume of traffic on 106 street would be diverted away from the community rather than dispersed through it. But local roads like 105 Street, which carried less than 1000 cars per day originally, were now approaching 3000 cars. This is not what we hoped for and many people are happy the trial has been ended.

However, there is no great cause for celebration in my view. Removing the trial does not solve the original issue that saw nearly 9000 cars a day on 106th street, with 60% of them speeding. 106 Street is a collector road designed for 5000 cars per day. The story is similar on 109 Street.

And it’s certainly difficult for the volunteer members of the community traffic safety committee who worked for 100s of hours collectively over two years, and in some cases longer, with our traffic engineers and planners to try to solve this problem. They no doubt feel their time and effort was wasted. They worked very hard to engage the community and achieve some degree of buy-in for measures they felt would make their neighbourhood safer. And when the trial began, they were even bullied and mistreated by some of their neighbours.

But as is the case with any trial measures, there is a fair degree of risk that they won’t deliver the results we hope for. In this case, while the trial was an important part of the overall public engagement about how to calm traffic in this community, the traffic counts and observable driver behaviour were the most important elements to consider.

Not a Permanent Solution

In the end, the trial ended early for these two reasons. The trial, at a minimum, needed to be altered to try to prevent the unfair disbursement of the original high volumes on 106 Street. If there was an overall community willingness to go there our transportation folks may have considered that. But the data was disappointing and the community buy-in was not forthcoming, which added up to the decision by our Transportation department to go back to the drawing board.

Ultimately, if our engineers and planners can’t see a trial becoming a permanent solution eventually, it only makes sense to move on to the next effort sooner than later.

So while it may appear and feel to some like a failed effort, and while many in the community are saying “I told you so”, we’ve have a learned a great deal from this experience. In an upcoming blog post I will detail the lessons I feel we’ve learned from this trial and the challenges we face in dealing with traffic management in a city like Edmonton. But if in fact we fail, “it’s good to fail fast and fail cheap”, and we cannot be afraid to fail again in the quest of making the improvements communities need.

Moving Forward

In the meantime, we have to continue to work with Pleasantview to deal with the original problem. In the short term, Transportation will be installing driver feedback signs in both directions on both 109 St and 106 St. A recent pilot project in Jackson Heights saw a 8-10 km/h average reduction in speeds from these signs.

The trial measures will be removed (with the exception of the zebra crosswalk on 106 St) in the next few weeks, and definitely before March 23rd. Transportation will be considering other options for controlling speed, like speed limit reductions and speed humps, and will return to the community with those options.

There will also be a school site safety review that will examine adding more signals and markings for the school zone area on 106 St. Lastly, we will be asking the Edmonton Public School Board to make constructing a school drop off zone at Mount Pleasant School a priority. It is up to the School Board to determine the priorities for those projects, but I am hopeful that they will consider our request.

We know traffic calming is hard. We know we'll never please everyone. And we know we have to keep trying. Neighbourhoods are great neighbourhoods when they'e safe neighbourhoods.

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  • commented 2016-02-10 17:16:09 -0700
    Dear Mr. Walters: I have been against this project from day 1. It made the whole situation more unsafe and understand the anger felt by so many. I wasn’t hopeful of such a quick reversal; but must give credit to the City for quick intervention and reversal of this poorly thought through project. I agree the City should continue work to control speedsters. But, as suggested by Ms. Kalagian, the city, also, needs to review the traffic lights with respect to Left Turns across the LRT, which needs software changes to expedite these turns.
    Lastly, I sincerely, hope the Pleasantview Neighbourhood recovers from all the ill feeling caused by this unfortunate experience. The city, in general, and Pleasantview, in particular, need to come together for the overall good of the neighbourhood. Time to heal and move forward.
  • commented 2016-02-05 11:33:21 -0700
    Engage the Community Walters? How, by overriding the normal process for the Community to have a Democratic Vote on proposed Traffic Calming measures and ramming unvoted changes down our throats.

    EDM Journal – Thur Letter to Editor

    “As a community league executive, we oppose the removal of the Pleasantview trial traffic calming measures on 106th and 109th Street.

    In 2013 we were encouraged by then-Councillor Don Iveson to pursue the expression of interest. We are mystified at the decision-making process that saw the measures abandoned in less than six months. Councillor Michael Walters said in his blog on March 27, 2015, “In order for measures to really have an impact, we need to see this pilot through for the two years allotted. By following through, we will be able to see the longer term outcomes as drivers adjust to the pilot measures.”

    The elimination of the project appears to have largely been politically driven. We intend to prepare a history of this process to ensure an accurate record and as a resource for other communities who are trusting in the community traffic programs that the City is continuing to engage in.

    Tony Slemko, president, Pleasantview Community League"

    Wow ‘King’ Slemko, Seriously?
    While I had no problem with a Committee proposing solutions to traffic volumes in Pleasantview, I do take Major Umbrage at your holier than thou attitude. The whole process was Seriously Flawed, especially with both yourself and the non-representative, non-elected ‘Stealth’ Traffic committee – that most of the Community had NEVER even knew was established, somehow getting Council to Override the standard process of getting Community support and Ramming the changes down our throughts Against the wishes of a Clear Majority of Community residents. Approx 75% against per last April presentation of the proposed measures that were implemented in July.

    The standard process was for proposed solutions to be voted on by the community, but Council Ovverrode this, wtf? (are you listening?? Councillor Walters & former Councillor – now Mayor Iveson)

    I also take Serious Issue with traffic Volumes Increasing on 105th Street, where I live, by a Whopping 300% for a mere 40% reduction in 106St traffic!! We voiced this concern numerous times last year but nobody from City or Community League would listen, not to mention the Secretive non-representative Stealth Traffic Committee who did not even wish to be identified for fear of retribution for their idiotic stance that in No way was representative of the Community.

    Try actually representing the views of the community as a whole, instead of just the 1% of residents on 106St that the trial one-way project benefitted, what about the rest of us who had to Suffer for 7 months with 300% Increased traffic volumes, detours to get around in roundabout ways through our own community, people blatantly ignoring signs (ie. Stop signs or one-way or school zone) because they were frustrated by idiotic changes. Our safety and that of our Children – who were afraid to even bicycle once these changes were in effect – was Seriously Compromised! Get a life Slemko.
  • commented 2016-02-04 19:37:58 -0700
    The reason so many people are on these roads is to avoid the ridiculous situation that is 111th street and the LRT. That train has screwed up traffic so badly that people will do anything to avoid it. I know first hand since I used to live in Allendale when the train first got put in. Unless the city fixes the traffic patterns from that train there is not going to be a way to stop people using side roads to avoid it.