Ottawa City Council has approved speed cameras on roads and streets. But only near schools. Provided the streets fit certain other criteria. Jump through all the hoops and yup, there may be some speed cameras installed, someday, in some innocuous out of the way “already-traffic-calmed” neighbourhood.
It’s a small step towards a safer and more equitable use of public space.
With an emphasis on “small”.
(photo from the internet with all the reliability that implies)
You may recall a story here many moons ago ( https://www.westsideaction.ca/just-how-fast-do-they-go/ ) about traffic speed counters put on Booth Street, near St Anthony School. Curiously, the monitoring spot was right before a traffic signal controlled intersection, so it is safe to assume that at least half the approaching traffic saw a orange or red light. Nonetheless, speeds of 99kmh were recorded. But the traffic boffins declared the school zone perfectly safe, eh. Send little Johnny off to school with his Minion lunch box to help him cross the residential street in front of his school. Three eyes is surely better than two.
And hope he makes it back again at the end of the day.
Speed cameras are like some of those other “measures” to combat speeding. Like speed bumps, or “intersection tables”.
Yes, they have some effect. As do some other on-street graphics tried elsewhere, from the cute to the gruesome to the disconcerting:
(another pic from the internet, etc, )
But are these bumps and cameras serious efforts to tame traffic? Or are they placebos from the ruling class at city hall to placate the yowling yobs who pay the freight?
Well, is this the city that for the first quarter century it had a Bus Rapid Transit system in place couldn’t be bothered to build sidewalks on streets adjacent to the stations? (such a program is in place now, perhaps better late than never or some such bromide comes to mind …).
Or that decides it is too dangerous to put wooden utility poles near intersections, but directs pedestrians to wait in these same spots whilst begging for a green light?
Or that finally concedes that its road network, as designed, is dangerous for cyclists and fixes it by … requiring cyclists to wear body armour? Amidst much pious language about caring and reducing head injury … but if they really cared about noggins they would require helmets at every home and office staircase (much more risky than cycling, according to MIT) and for every car driver.
A serious city would admit that it has for the past century designed public spaces exclusively for the benefit of one class of user and tried for decades to make it safer for motorists by transferring risks to pedestrians and cyclists and adjacent residents. It would acknowledge that it now recognizes this to be wrong, mea culpa.
It would then draw up a code of complete streets, including traffic calmed residential and collector streets, so that motorists want to drive at the correct, safe, design speed. And it would then implement that better street design at every opportunity, rebuild, major modification, etc. And would change existing streets on a systemic way radiating out from schools, transit stations, and fix crowd-identified dangerous spots.
An unserious city would “carry on as usual” and tamp out the occasional brush fire of protest with a “special measure just for you” like a speed bump or children playing sign.
Which type of city do we live in?