I have talked about this a lot, but I haven’t blogged much about it… but here is something that I wrote a few years ago that someone asked about recently… you might enjoy it, and you might learn something that will save a child’s life one day…
Today I want to talk about traffic safety.
Making traffic flow faster on our arteries is a must and can easily be addressed with light synchronization (lack of intelligence in this technological age is absurd). I would also like to see speed limit increases on many larger roads and decreases in all residential areas. Accidents are caused mostly by variable speeds and congestion, not speed. Move people off the road quicker and reduce accidents. It is quite simple and millions of dollars have been spend coming to this conclusion. I believe we should abolish most school zones and replace them with playground zones which slow traffic over double the daylight hours in key locations. Edmonton just did this in 2018 and I have been asking St. Albert to do it since 2010.
My number one problem with St. Albert traffic is not the flow or photo radar though (although these are way up on my list and will be discussed in the near future). My biggest problem is safety. St. Albert seems to have gone out of its way as a city to show little care for the safety of pedestrians and drivers. I take great concern with the pedestrian safety because the majority of these are youth who don’t have the same care or concern and need to be protected more so than adults.
The advance pedestrian signals scare the crap out of me. I know there are studies and statistics but I have been a pedestrian and I have common sense. Allowing a pedestrian to get onto the road before a car is allowed to move puts the pedestrian at huge risk. It may increase the visibility to the driver but absolutely puts the pedestrian in a situation where they cannot jump out of the way any longer. I want to stop installing these lights in our city.
We also spend money on foolish campaigns which do nothing for safety. Installing additional angled traffic lights so that drivers who aren’t looking forward know when to turn is acknowledging that they don’t have to pay attention. I don’t believe in rewarding bad behavior and most definitely not at the tax payer expense.
I would like to raise the speed limit on most arterial roadways to increase traffic flow and reduce locations where photo radar can punish drivers for driving safe simply because they are exceeding an artificially lowered speed limit. Grandin Road is a perfect example where common sense was not used in setting speed limits.
The fact that Grandin Road, a four lane road with no parking, has the same speed limit as the service road beside it, a single lane with parking on one side, (and pedestrian traffic as seen in this image), is well beyond a lack of common sense. This borders on pure stupidity. I would push for many roads like Grandin Road to be increased to 60 Km/h and the service road be reduced to 40 Km/h. Similar roads like Hebert Road are already 60 m/h without higher accidents. Improving crosswalk visibility would be much more beneficial in saving lives than trying to slow down every vehicle all day.
The city just replaced a pile of street light poles in my old neighborhood in 2017 and when I asked why they weren’t lowering the lights I was told that it was a city decision. Why should I, as a citizen, be the one that has to do your job? All the street lights are in the middle or the top of a canopy of leaves for most the year and obstructed by branches all year. Take some pride in your job and while replacing a wooden pole, put the light where it makes sense for each pole when you are reattaching it, or at least ask for permission.
Questionable Traffic Decisions
I could go on all day with examples of questionable traffic decisions that risk safety in our city (especially our youth) but the clearest example has to be that school buses are not able to use their red flashing lights in our city. I wish I could explain why. The fact is that most jurisdictions in North America have laws restricting traffic from passing flashing red lights on a school bus in either direction but Alberta allows municipalities to ignore common sense. St. Albert hasn’t allowed school buses to stop traffic to protect our youth since 1987. The most recent bylaw I could find reads like this:
While operating a School Bus on a Roadway, no Person shall activate any flashing stop light or mechanical stop arm with which the School Bus may be equipped.
If you weren’t aware of why laws were enacted to have people stop for school buses dropping off youth, check out the Wikipedia page here.
The minister of Transportation wrote this:
In some low speed urban situations, it is better to require students on school buses to use existing traffic controls such as stop signs or signals and crosswalks than to depend on school bus warning lights for protection.
~ Alberta Minister of Education
St. Albert is not the only municipality in Alberta that doesn’t allow school buses to use flashing lights to stop vehicles from passing in the city, there is apparently a list of cities that simply don’t care about the lives of our children. Before 1986 the province of Alberta didn’t allow any buses to stop traffic on any road with a speed limit of 50 Km/h or less but since 1987 it has allowed municipalities to decide if their children were important. Guess which way my city opted to go?
Sorry minister but our children do NOT rely on crosswalks for protection. They rely on drivers to stop in time and taking away the red flashing lights and putting the onus on a child to pay attention seems like a critical miss in our world. Here is my big problem with this… who knows about this law? I didn’t until I complained to a bus driver that he almost caused a kid to get run over (I was just a witness). The driver told me he wasn’t allowed to operate the lights in town and when I told a friend who was a school bus driver that this guy’s company had this policy… let’s just say he educated me (I think he really enjoyed it too).
How have I been driving this long and never known that school buses only use those lights in the rural roads? I can’t possibly be alone in my ignorance or my frustration at the seemingly stupid nature of this decision to prioritize the traffic flow over the preservation of our children’s lives.
Common sense truly isn’t common. But feel free to educate me more if you feel brave.