Like most communities, La Croisee has a maximum traffic speed limit of 40 km/hr, - for a reason.
Many residents and families instinctively know what that reason is. It is mainly this - nine out of ten (that's 90%) - of unprotected pedestrians (including children walking, biking) when hit by a car travelling at 60km/h would be killed. And approximately 80% of unprotected pedestrians would be killed at 50 km/hr.
It’s clear “traffic calming” measures in our streets is a question of life or death.
Source: “Speed management: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners.” Geneva, Global Road Safety Partnership, 2008”
So - what to do?
Research shows that in order to reduce the cruising speed on residential roads, the problem must be addressed in 3 simultaneous ways:
- educating the community
- police reinforcement
- physical alterations to the roadway.
By working on these three elements the City of Gatineau, the police department and our residents, all together, can create a calming “safe zone”, where drivers proceed slowly throughout the community. The La Croisee Community Association and our Street Representatives will be helping with this initiative in the coming weeks.
Adjusting driver behaviour and beliefs, the culture shift through education:
Fundamental to the success of any solution is that residents must adhere to a new driving philosophy, themselves . They must be made aware of the all-too-real dangers of speeding. They must lead by example and always set the pace. This culture shift is not an easy one, especially for repeat offenders but it is vital to the success of any other measures combined.
Each citizen must play their part by:
- talking to their neighbours about the issue
- educating their children
- setting the pace
- contributing to the collective effort (see our available signage below)
- (again) always driving slowly in our community
Law enforcement is there to back up the grass roots initiatives of educating the community.
- They can assure a preventative presence with their visibility.
- They may set speed traps once in a awhile
- They may also consider us for the next wave of pedagogical radars.
The City of Gatineau recognises its responsibility in regards to the safety of the streets on its territory. The City is also responsible for a variety of traffic calming initiatives in our neighborhoods..
Overall, it should be noted that not all traffic calming solutions have the desired effect. (10)
Municipalities may also lower the threshold or reasonable limit to force action.5 For example, if 85% of motorists are driving 60km/h or less on a street, the City will not act on traffic calming measures (a reduction from 65km/h, nevertheless).
In 2012, Ontario’s Chief Coroner reviewing pedestrian death suggested the speed limit in residential areas should be 30 km/h (14). However, this measure, as are all other measures, is dependent on how the community responds to educating themselves and each other on the importance of creating a “traffic calming” community.
By working together - the residents in our community, the Gatineau Police department and the City of Gatineau can create a beautiful environment where it will become natural and intuitive for all drivers to slow down when they are behind the wheel in La Croisee.
(Much thanks to Melanie Brassard, a La Croisee resident and Street Representative, for her research, translation and review of this article).