OOE residents applaud lower speed limits, but questions abound over enforcement

John Dance 

Speed limits have been reduced almost everywhere in Old Ottawa East, a move welcomed by most, although many feel that there is inadequate enforcement of the lower limits.

The lower speed limits are part of the City’s “Safe Roads,” program and are based on studies that show motorized vehicle collisions with pedestrians and cyclists decline in both number and severity when speed limits are reduced.

In an informal canvassing of members of the OOE Grapevine Facebook site, respondents applauded the lower speed limits but had lots of questions about enforcement and suggestions for better monitoring.

“It is a great idea, but unfortunately many are not following the speed limits,” commented Steve Konkle.

When asked if the city had data from speed boards that were present before and after speed limits were reduced, the City media staff responded that the data would not be available “until sometime in the second quarter of 2022.”

Similarly, no before-and-after data were readily available from the Ottawa Police Services (OPS).

“OPS operates an intelligence-led perspective to the complaints that it receives,” Sgt. Rob Cairns of the OPS Traffic Services told The Mainstreeter. “So, in essence, if a sole complaint is received in relation to a traffic complaint, it is unlikely to be immediately acted upon, unless further complaints are received specific to that same complaint or area.”

“Councillor Menard should be applauded for taking the initiative to get the 30 kilometre/hour zones declared and marked, while continuing to work with communities to develop more substantial traffic calming measures and get them into the City’s pipeline to have them implemented,” noted Michael Vickers.

A speed board on Greenfield Avenue shows motorists are breaking the new 30 kilometre/hour speed limit.

A speed board on Greenfield Avenue shows motorists are breaking the new 30 kilometre/hour speed limit.

 

Enforcement Issues

“There is no enforcement, so no adherence,” commented Teddie Roulston. “I was doing 30 on my street in December and a guy driving a school van (fortunately no students) passed me, stopped in front of my house and got out of his vehicle to swear at me for driving too slowly. He was practically shaking with rage, and I was quite frightened.”

There were also lots of suggestions for where speed boards should be installed. The electronic sensing signs show the speed of passing vehicles, flashing red numbers when the driver exceeds the speed limit. However, the boards are strictly for information – there is no enforcement aspect.

Nevertheless, the boards maintain the record of the number of vehicles, their speeds and when they pass. The suggestion for a speed board on Greenfield Avenue has already been satisfied with the City erecting one in January.

A brief observation of the board indicated that most vehicles were exceeding the 30 kilometre/hour limit but relatively few were going more than 40.

According to respondents, speed boards are also wanted on Main Street, as motorists enter OOE from the McIlraith Bridge, and in the stretch between Clegg Street and Hawthorne Avenue, and on Lees Avenue. Measures like additional crosswalks and narrowing of streets at intersections were other suggestions to calm traffic.

“If we could install spike straps at Mason Terrace and Mutchmor Road that somehow targeted people who blow through the stop sign, that would save me a lot of shouting,” Mutchmor resident Rob Fletcher factiously noted.

With its lack of stop signs, great width and two dead-ends, Mutchmor Road has lots of speeders, Facebook commentators noted. “If a member of the public has concerns relating to speed they should contact OPS by using the online traffic complaint reporting portal on the OPS website,” says Sgt. Cairns.

Asked about what proportion of OPS efforts was devoted to speed limit enforcement, Sgt. Cairns responded: “Speed enforcement is only one thing that Traffic Services deals with daily – we are obviously dealing with many more issues/offences relating to the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). I really can’t provide you with a percentage of how much time we spend specifically on speed enforcement, but it will obviously be substantial due to the fact that it is probably the most often contravened act in the HTA.”

Another method of ensuring enforcement suggested by Main Street resident Ian Grabina is simply driving the speed limit or a bit less: “[I]t gives me no greater pleasure than to drive 38 kilometres/hour on Main Street ahead of drivers trying to go faster, or to ‘catch up’ to speeders at the next traffic light.”

Automated Enforcement?

The City of Ottawa recently approved the expansion of its successful automated speed enforcement (ASE) program. In a pilot project, automated speed cameras were installed in eight school zones. Over the course of a year, 101,778 tickets were issued with approximately $5.4 million in revenue collected. The cameras led to a 200 per cent increase in compliance with the speed limit and a 72 per cent decrease in the percentage of high-end speeders at the pilot sites.

The surplus of revenues over the cost of the project allowed the City to fund traffic calming measures throughout Ottawa. Given the success of the pilot, the program is going to be expanded. Provincial policy prevents municipalities from using automatic speed cameras anywhere other than school zones and near retirement homes.

When asked about this policy, many politicians, including outgoing Mayor Jim Watson, have said use of automated speed cameras beyond the specified zones would be a “cash grab.” Those threatened by speeding drivers might have other opinions. One other note: in the City’s positive analysis of the ASE program, no mention was made of the fact that OPS would no longer have to spend so much time enforcing speed limits.

Echo and Colonel By Speed Reductions

The 40 km/h sign on Echo Drive between Avenue Road and Bank Street will be removed as a result of OOE’s Paul Goodkey and OOS’s Kathy Krywicki bringing this anomaly to the attention of the City. The stretch of roadway has no sidewalks and is used by many pedestrians on the way to school, the library and elsewhere.

“It recently came to the City’s attention that a sign indicating a speed limit of 40 km/h was mistakenly left in place in this area of Echo Drive, which was an oversight,” Phil Landry, director of traffic services told The Mainstreeter.

“Staff will be removing the sign as soon as feasibly possible and would like to apologize for any confusion it may have caused.”

“The National Capital Commission is currently reviewing the posted speed limits on Colonel By Drive and the Queen Elizabeth Parkway with the aim to reduce the sections currently posted as 60 km/h to 40 km/h,” Dominique Huras told .

The NCC has already reduced the speed limit on Col By between Bank and Bronson streets and also on Queen Elizabeth Drive near Bank Street.

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