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Suburban speeders spark safety concerns on side street-turned-thoroughfare

After a dog was recently hit and killed by a driver, residents of the western Ottawa suburb of Stittsville want the city to take immediate action to make their street safer, but a quick fix may not be possible.

Lloydalex Crescent looks like many suburban Ottawa neighborhoods—single-family homes and garages face a wide street and the odd tree pops up every few houses. Snow-covered lawns and driveways stretch to the curb.

Dog walkers, cyclists and children going to school must navigate a road shared with vehicles as there is no sidewalk.

Jamie and Jennifer Van Dusen say they have complained to city officials for years about cars going well in excess of the advertised 25 mph speed limit. When they learned that a neighbor’s dog was beaten and killed on January 20, they felt the need to speak out.

Jamie Van Dusen, who lives on Lloydalex Crescent, says cars often speed down the road.  He and his wife, Jennifer Van Dusen, have noticed the problem since they moved in almost 10 years ago.
Jamie Van Dusen, who lives on Lloydalex Crescent, says cars often speed down the road. He and his wife, Jennifer Van Dusen, have noticed the problem since they moved in almost 10 years ago. (Laura Glowacki/CBC)

“It’s pretty sad. It’s only a matter of time before it gets worse,” he said. “I’m no traffic expert, but there’s definitely something that can be done.”

Certainly, except maybe not really. Lloydalex is not unique in its desire for safer roads and there is a long waiting list for traffic calming measures across the city.

Suburbs built all around the car

Pierre Filion, professor emeritus in the planning department at the University of Waterloo, looked at Lloydalex on a map and saw the problem.

“This is clearly a point of conflict,” he said. “Lloydalex offers a shortcut as far as I can see.” Drivers use the road to avoid driving on Carp Road.

Roads like Lloydalex were originally planned for local traffic only – the thought was that people wouldn’t mind walking with cars on the road when drivers were likely to be neighbors who would respect speed limits and drive carefully, Filion said.

“We’re talking about the typical suburban subdivision planned around the car,” he said. “Almost the majority of Canadians live in this type of development.”

But when local roads become arterial road shortcuts or collector roads, people who don’t live in the area start using them as thoroughfares. They’re not always that respectful.

“Pedestrians have no protection,” said Filion.

Pedestrians cross Lloydalex Crescent at Echowoods Avenue, where many cars ignore four-way stop signs.
Pedestrians cross Lloydalex Crescent at Echowoods Avenue where they see many cars ignoring four-way stop signs. (CBC)

The best solution, he said, is to add sidewalks to protect people and speed bumps to discourage non-local traffic. Two expensive options that probably won’t be added anytime soon, Stittsville Coun said. GlenGower.

High cost for a real solution

It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to retrofit roads with sidewalks, Gower said, and speed bumps range from $5,000 to $10,000 a piece, depending on the project.

The city council itself only has an annual budget of $50,000 for traffic calming and road safety measures for the community.

“We have [Lloydalex] shortlisted to have temporary traffic calming measures installed this summer. We’re just awaiting budget approval for it,” he said.

He expects a majority of this year’s municipal budget to be spent on an outdoor crosswalk École élémentaire catholique Saint-Jean-Paul II in Abbottstr.

Gower said his office will look into installing flex stakes on Lloydalex, which will come at a more manageable cost of about $3,350 per site.

“These tend to drop the speed by three to six miles an hour, which is useful,” Gower said.

Flex inserts like this are usually a cheaper option to slow down traffic. They cost about $3,350 per site, according to the City of Ottawa. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Van Dusen, along with other neighbors CBC spoke to, said similar pilings along Kimpton Drive, which intersects with Lloydalex at a four-way stop, have not improved driveability.

“They haven’t done much to slow down drivers who are speeding through the stop sign,” Matthew Simpson said Monday.

Neighbors expressed support for more speeding tickets and an automatic speed camera. Seventeen of the cameras are installed across the city, but so far only near schools.

As for whether neighbors would support sidewalks on the street, Jennifer Van Dusen believes many would. With so many dog ​​owners out on the streets now, she said many are fed up.

“Sidewalks even on one side [the] Street makes sense to me,” she wrote in an email.

Even with neighborhood help, Gower doesn’t expect Lloydalex to be getting sidewalks anytime soon. There is already a long list in Stittsville alone, including projects for Carp Road as well as Maple Grove Road and Hobin Street, which is near a school.

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