Bureaucracies can always be depended on to make everything complicated. So complicated, only they can figure things out. Thus creating a dependency on their expertise to get what we want. At great expense, of course. All those complicated rules, you see, many of which they write themselves.
So take a gander at the new sign installed on this suburban lawn. Big thick post. Very high too, in order to fit all three apparently necessary signs onto it. Top one is a icon, pretty easy to figure out: school ahead.
Then there is the new speed limit, 40kmh. Ottawa has a default speed limit of 50 kmh even on minor residential streets like the one pictured. There’s an intersection up by that parked car. In theory, some gung ho driver could accelerate to 50, but the layout of the suburban winding streets works to convey the notion that the appropriate speed is less — this is good traffic calming, suburban style. Nonetheless, a lower speed limit is desirable near schools, so the sign posts the reduced limit. So far, so good.
But the city doesn’t want to inconvenience those folks who drive here, so the limit is only in effect at certain hours, and only on certain days.
So imagine you are driving here in late August. Is school in? Not likely. OK, speed up to 50 for that short block.
Except when you get to the actual school you discover it a French language school. Oops, their programs start a week earlier than the much-more-widely advertised English public school start date. You all knew that, right? But you cannot know what is a school day by reading the sign … which I’m confident someone someday will use as an “out” for running over some kid. Or is generally OK to run over a kid depending on what language they speak?
And why only go slow when the school buses are present? Don’t any kids actually walk to their local neighbourhood school?
At the school itself there is curb-side tot lot. For very small kids. Ooops, a pre-k program runs here. Which means it runs before school hours, all day, and after school hours. So is one allowed to speed up to run over the pre-schoolers but not the schoolers?
And that program runs all summer. So is it OK to speed up and run over pre-schoolers because they aren’t officially within official school days?
And look what’s next: a public park. Ooooh, with a plaque in it (I do like that Somerset Ward parks don’t get plaqued):
So, slow down for school kids. But not for pre-schoolers? And not for kids going to and from the park, whether it be during school hours or non-school days? Has someone made a video game of this yet, so we can get practice?
And, halfway along the park, this sign:
That’s right, the school zond ends, you can speed up now, we’ve installed a sign to tell you that the 40kmh limit is over, you may now resume speeding at 50. Do note that the street dead ends just a hundred yards on, or motorists have to take a 90 degree turn onto a side street. Speeding up is scarcely likely.
There’s a similar set of signs going the other way too. And a sign telling you that “slow down and live” zone ends — just a few meters before a stop sign.
When the city holds budget consultations, they go through the charade of asking residents to play “beggar they neighbour” by raiding someone else’s bucket of money. What we do need to do though, is stop doing the same expensive silly things we do now.
At a max, do we need more than one 40kmh zone sign at each approach to the school/park? If the zone runs out after so much distance, do we really have to post signs saying that? Let someone drive a little further at 40. It won’t kill the driver, and might save a life. And get our city workers doing something better with their time.