by Matthew Meagher
The Glebe Community Association’s Transportation Committee undertook an online and paper survey of Glebe residents over eight weeks in January and February to get their views on the safety of our neighbourhood streets, sidewalks and pathways. We asked survey respondents to comment on their impressions of the safety of various aspects of our local transportation infrastructure and tell us their feelings about possible improvements. More than 140 of you took the time to fill out the survey. Here are some of the things that we learned.
First, the good news
A majority of respondents (60 per cent) consider Glebe streets to be generally safe. When people were asked specifically about the safety of Glebe streets for children or people with mobility challenges, that number fell to an even 50 per cent.
Number one concern: the speed of cars on Glebe streets
A strong majority (74 per cent) cited speeding as a safety issue of concern. When we asked which streets were particular problems, those mentioned most often were Fifth, Glebe, Second and Renfrew avenues and Percy Street.
Respondents united about appropriate speed limit
In fact, an overwhelming 81 per cent said that they would support a reduction of the speed limit to 30 km/h. This result is particularly encouraging, given that there are now considerable data showing that relatively small reductions in car speeds can dramatically reduce incidence of collisions and the likelihood that they will result in serious injury or death.
How can we reduce speeds?
How can we reduce speeds assuming that we will not see an unprecedented widespread improvement in driving behaviour? We asked about traffic calming measures and allowed respondents to identify options that they would like to see on their street. Speed bumps were the measure of choice with 63 per cent checking that option. Fifty-one per cent of people selected painted speed-limit signs on the road surface and 39 per cent liked speed signage in the road. Less popular were bulb-outs at 27 per cent and alternate-side parking at 23 per cent.
Safe school routes
Commenters paid a lot of attention to safe school routes. In particular, many people noted the lack of safe walking and biking routes to neighbourhood schools. Several pointed out that none of the relatively busy north-south streets in the neighbourhood have bike lanes for Glebe student. Others drew attention to the fact that a school like Corpus Christi has dedicated all sides of its property to drop offs by cars and buses and provides no approaches where students can walk or bike in without having to negotiate vehicular traffic. Finally, many respondents noted the lack of a crossing guard at the congested Bank and Fifth intersection as a concern.
Almost half of the people expressed concern about the continuing lack of an interconnected cycling network, even following development of the Glebe Neighbourhood Cycling Plan. Many respondents are similarly concerned about the lack of a single north–south bike lane in the Glebe. As for potential improvements, respondents were given the chance to identify measures they would support on their own street, if needed to complete the cycling network. Painted bike lanes garnered 69 per cent support and 50 per cent supported a bike lane defined by flexi-posts. Forty-five per cent would welcome a segregated bike lane on their street.
70 per cent felt unsafe walking on Bronson sidewalks.
We didn’t even ask about biking on Bronson. The lack of safe pedestrian crossings on Bronson was an issue frequently raised, with respondents also citing concerns about the safety of crosswalks at Fifth, Carling and Powell. In terms of possible improvements, many referenced longer crossing times, and 61 per cent of respondents favoured an additional pedestrian crossing at Bronson and Third.
Pedestrians and cyclists uncomfortable on Bank Street Bridge
The Bank Street Bridge is another maligned piece of neighbourhood infrastructure. Pedestrians pointed to hazards such as narrow sidewalks, fast traffic and cyclists seeking refuge on the sidewalk. As for the cyclists, a full 87 per cent said that they felt unsafe cycling over the bridge and a large majority indicated that people in cars were not respecting the sharrows and were not giving cyclists the full lane as required. When we turned their attention to possible solutions, 74 per cent supported the addition of a new structure to carry pedestrians and cyclists. For those with tighter budgets, 58 per cent supported narrowing the bridge to two lanes to provide a more comfortable environment for cyclists and pedestrians.
Drivers “rolling” through stop signs and red-light running on Bank and Bronson
These were of concern for a large number of respondents. Many also commented on the risk caused by distracted drivers and the lack of sidewalk snow clearing in the winter (though 74 per cent said the city does a good job on Bank Street). Finally, a large number of responses drew attention to the problem of cars and trucks stopping on and parking over Glebe sidewalks, noting that these behaviours force pedestrians to walk in the road. Sidewalk encroachment by cars was cited as a particularly large issue for children and those with mobility issues.
The GCA Transportation Committee sees improving the safety of residents as its most important objective. Armed with the insight provided by the survey, the Committee can sharpen its focus on issues that are of particular concern to residents of our neighbourhood. If you have an interest in transportation issues, or one of the concerns expressed above gets you particularly fired up, please check the GCA website for upcoming meeting dates, or drop us a line at email@example.com. We would love to have you join us.
Matthew Meagher is chair of the Glebe Community Association’s Transportation Committee.