Sunday, July 08, 2007

counting on cootes

Some analysis on stats from previous article:

185 vehicles recorded
108 travelling below the 50 km-h speed limit
63 at 50-59 km-h
8 at 60-69 km-h
6 at 70-79 km-h

As Percentages

  • below or at 50 km/h 58%
  • above limit (up to 59 km/h) 34%
  • 10-19 km/h over limit 4%
  • 20 to 29 km/h over limit 3%

Note from article:
"Because the auxiliary officers and speed sign are highly visible, drivers tend to lower their speed at a Speedwatch site."

So it's probably safe to assume that these numbers are low. The location is also not as likely to get high speeds compared to Cootes further east, where the roadway becomes more of a divided expressway (i.e. no businesses or driveways, or intersections, just woods and marsh). The police were only clocking eastbound vehicles at Thorpe Street, so prior to the 80km/h zone).

Just past Thorpe Street (148 m) is a traffic light, which may also help to account for the vehicles going slow (under the limit).

If we take traffic count estimates for Cootes (27,000 according to latest City estimates) and extrapolate these very conservative numbers of speeders going 10 to 20 km/h over the limit (7%), we can see that Cootes has at least 1,890 speeders each day.

Now back to the reason for watching the speeding: the large number of pedestrians and cyclists using the level crossing at Sanders Blvd/McMaster University.

So the question becomes: are we willing to slow down and make the streets safer for other users (people using sustainable modes of transportation, the kind of people the city purports to encourage)? or are we addicted to speed at any cost?

Star on Cootes

[Craig and the Dundas Star continue to give great follow-up coverage on transportation issues!]

Second speedwatch alerts drivers of pending change

Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News

(Jul 6, 2007)

Six drivers were travelling at least 20 km-h over the posted speed limit during a the most recent Speedwatch on Cootes Drive in Dundas.

The public awareness program is operated by auxiliary police. While no traffic tickets are handed out, a large radar board displays drivers' speeds in comparison to the posted limit.

Speeds are also recorded, then passed along to divisional safety police officers, and City of Hamilton traffic staff. The brief morning Speedwatch on Cootes Drive just before Thorpe Street, Monday, June 25, observed a total of 185 vehicles.

According to statistics provided by Sergeant Glenn Jarvie, 108 of those drivers were actually travelling below the 50 km-h posted speed limit.

Sixty-three drivers were recorded at the posted speed limit or less than 10 km-h over. And, in addition to the six drivers travelling 20 to 29 km-h over the limit, eight drivers were speeding by 10 to 19 km-h.

"This program assists the police service to identify resource allocation," Sgt. Jarvie said.

"Complaint areas can be given to the speedwatch auxiliaries, attended to, and if deemed to be a problem area then our divisional safety officers are directed to this area to initiate an enforcement and education awareness plan."

Because the auxiliary officers and speed sign are highly visible, drivers tend to lower their speed at a Speedwatch site.

The four kilometres of Cootes Drive - from York Road in Dundas to Main Street West in Hamilton - has been the focus on ongoing complaints for more than two years.

The roadway has received heavier scrutiny since Feb. 2006, when a 19-year-old McMaster University student was struck and killed crossing Cootes Drive.

Another Speedwatch was held near the pedestrian-controlled crossing at the opposite end of Cootes Drive on Nov. 6. Both Speedwatch days have only observed eastbound traffic on Cootes.

"When it comes to these identified locations, the Speedwatch people revisit these sites to determine if further enforcement is required," Mr. Jarvie said.

A Division one officer recently began an increased level of speed enforcement at the Main West end of Cootes Drive, while the other end of Cootes - near Thorpe Street - has long been a favourite of Dundas police for speed enforcement.

A reduction in speed limits is expected in less than two months.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Three bells

Bell rings at 9:10 for Osler students

Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News

(Jul 6, 2007)

Concerns over the planned early start time for Sir William Osler School convinced the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board to conduct a quick, and rare, parent survey.

According to local superintendent of education John Laverty, a slim majority supported the 9:10 a.m. start - and that time will be used for both Dundas District and Central Park in September, as well as Osler whenever it is ready for students.

"This was somewhat atypical," Mr. Laverty said this week after the new start time was announced to parents on June 28, the last day of school.

He explained bell times are usually decided in consultation between the board's transportation department and school principal.

In this particular case, two schools being closed by the board -- Central Park at 9 a.m. and Dundas District at 8:10 a.m. -- had a wide variation in start time.

"We've never faced that before," Mr. Laverty said.

An early 8 a.m. start time or a late 9:10 a.m. start would have allowed the board to use existing busses and not add new transportation. But when an 8 a.m. start time was announced by principal Maria Rowles, the school board started to hear from several concerned parents who felt the start time was much too early, particularly for younger students who walk to school. So board staff agreed to send home a parent survey on June 25 with a deadline for them to be returned by the morning of Wednesday, June 27.

Mr. Laverty agreed the opportunity for parental input was a short one, but noted choosing a bell time typically doesn't involve outside consultation. He said the Osler situation was not typical.

He said the board also normally finalizes start times before the end of the school year, so parents have a couple of months to make child care arrangements if necessary.

According to a letter sent to parents on June 28, 90 per cent of parents responded to the survey, and 53 per cent preferred the 9:10 a.m. start.

When it opens sometime after next September, Osler school will be one of three schools within half a kilometre on the south side of Governor's Road.

Start times will range from 8:15 a.m. at Highland Secondary School to 9 a.m. at St. Bernadette Catholic Elementary, and 9:10 a.m. at Osler.

The new school's principal must request any crossing guards necessary from the City of Hamilton. The city operated three crossing guards on Creighton Road this school year, including one at Creighton and Governor's Road.

Randy Kay, a Dundas resident and member of transportation for livable communities, an Ontario Public Interest Research Group, said the primary concern should now be getting kids to the school by walking, cycling or roller blading, while calming traffic and creating safe crossing points.

Opposed to widening

Mr. Kay said TLC is opposed to the city widening Governor's Road, which allows for increased traffic speeds and increases crossing distance.

The group supports the addition of bicycle lanes.

"Priority one should be pedestrians and cycling, then transit, then finally cars. And it's not clear to me at this point this is the emphasis we're getting," Mr. Kay said.