Traffic Calming Concerns

As the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville continues to grow, we have the same growing pains as those cities that surround us. The City of Markham, City of Richmond Hill, City of Vaughan, and City of Toronto are all continuing with the same concerns that are starting to appear here in Whitchurch-Stouffville. Higher volumes, and faster speeds of vehicle traffic making our streets more and more dangerous for everyday activities within our neighbourhood’s. This is a 30-year-old problem. It is about time that we did things differently.

Why are we making the same mistakes? Why are we not addressing these mistakes and mitigating the causes. Residents are calling for speed humps, signage, increased police presence, and stop signs at, what seems, every corner. Is this answer?  Can we correct what seems to be a societal behaviour?

45% of all developable lands are used, so we can drive our cars around. Roads, driveways, garages, and parking lots all built for the use of the car. 45% of the farmland or forest cover that has been removed to develop space for the automobile. We need to change this, and when we do, then maybe we can get a few people out of their cars, and into public transit, on to their bicycles and even walking.  

Our roads are getting wider, more activities are being built around our roads. Parking areas, and Bicycle lanes have been added to the aprons of our roads making them even wider. The width of some of our neighbourhood roads, for 40km speeds or less, are the same width as those roads that we mark for 60 to 70km speeds. Why are our roads so wide? We need to go on a road diet.

Take Reeves Way Boulevard, an area that has been asking for the Town to do something to curb speeds and volume of cars traveling through their neighbourhood. The road apron is nearly 10meters wide. This is enough space to fit 5 cars, side by side, across the road. Is it any wonder we have speeding cars through this neighbourhood as well as others with similar roads. The Town will put up the little signs that restrict movement through certain areas, but is this enough. No!!!

There are a number of proven traffic calming devises that can be used.

  1. Speed humps, speed bumps. These have been proven to work to a certain degree. It shows that speed humps will slow traffic in the vicinity of the hump, but traffic speeds back up until the next hump. This gives you a false sense of security. Speed humps will prolong response times for emergency vehicle. They are expensive, costing anywhere from $5000 to $10,000 dollars. They are expensive to maintain. They increase noise and air pollution. A single speed hump will create 82% more CO2 and NO2 than if it were not there. They are often moved, due to residents that have them in front of their homes get frustrated with them. They should be counted on as a tool for slowing and controlling traffic, but more needs to be done.
  2. Bump-outs or Chicanes. These are small islands or extended curbs into the travel portion of the road to force traffic to slow and weave around the extended areas. Small islands, that can support some tree or shrub growth to landscape our roadways.
  3. Raise or lowered intersections that will force motorists to slow down when entering an intersection can also be a tool to control traffic.
  4. Decrease the width of the road. If motorists feel that they cannot travel faster in their own heads, they will slow down. Thinner roads provide larger boulevards for grass or Tree growth. Studies have shown that motorist slow down on roads where mature trees extend over the roadway. Larger boulevards will provide larger habitats for trees and grass for healthier communities. Less road means less salt use in the winter and less snow you have to shovel at the bottom of your drive after a snow fall. This will also reduce storm water runoff into our lakes, river and wetlands, keeping these areas healthy for wildlife.

The wheel does not have to be reinvented when it comes to Traffic Calming. There are examples all around us to create traffic calming. The same mistakes are being made and continue to ignore the problems. We need to build in traffic calming when developments are being planned. Traffic calming cannot be an after thought where costs are redirected to the tax payers.

If elected, this will be on the agenda and solutions will be implemented.

Vote Mark Carroll 4 Mayor on October 24th.

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