Islands in the … asphalt

It’s easy when in one’s home city to fall into the trap of the local mindset.

For example, our traffic engineers seem to get really excited, in a negative way, whenever the local natives lobby for features in the middle of the street. “Can’t be done” they chime, “it’s unsafe”. Or we won’t be able to plow the streets. Or some such excuse.

Because they really are just excuses. After all, are the streets there to serve the adjacent businesses and residents or are they there for the convenience of through traffic? Uh, no, you don’t have to answer that question. Every engineer in Ottawa knows that streets are just through-roads in training, and that someday in the glorious near-future they will be Widened and Flattened and prepared for their real role Carrying More Cars.

Here’s a picture of a nearby city, in Ontario, that traffic calmed a street by introducing a number of narrow islands. The street reminded me of an Alta Vista or Sherwood Drive type street:

Centre islands reduce apparent road width, causing traffic to slow down. Obviously they are placed to avoid blocking driveways. The signs here are a bit big, but maybe the speeding yokels need them.

Actually, the more-progressive traffic engineers at the NCC have some bits of narrow centre islands, planted, along the QE Driveway at Dow’s Lake. But then wasn’t it a City engineer that told me that was all very fine and well, he was building roads, and aesthetics was the responsibility of the NCC “over there”.

And here is a picture from somewhere in the American southwest. The instant I saw the traffic calming I thought of Sherwood Drive. Here they introduced a series of mini-traffic roundabouts and in the distance you can see a side bulb-out (called “neck downs” there) making the street into a bit of a chicane.

3 thoughts on “Islands in the … asphalt

  1. I couldn’t agree more, Eric. I think that these wood be perfect for Sherwood drive.

    Unfortunately, the city prefers squiggly lines.

  2. In the town of Kirkland on Montreal’s west island most of the residential streets that could be used as through streets have this kind of treatment using curb lengths and large planters with trees in them and of course safety signage.

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