Police nab Cootes speeders in advance of lower limits
Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News (Jun 22, 2007)
Police are expected to continue an increased level of speed enforcement on Cootes Drive, as the city moves ahead with plans to drop the road's speed limit to a low of 40 km-h.
Acting Sergeant Tim O'Keefe of Hamilton Police Service acknowledged the extremely high speeds on Cootes are unsafe, and said a Division One constable took it upon himself a few weeks ago to begin a higher level of visible enforcement on Cootes, near the pedestrian controlled crossing at Sanders Boulevard.
"Don't be surprised if you hear more news about this spot, because when police officers find a successful spot, they habitually return there," Sgt. O'Keefe said.
Cootes Drive may be a particularly successful road for police to catch speeders - as drivers consistently break the current 60 and 80 km-h limits by 20 to 50 km-h, even before the lowered limits have been instituted.
Some observers don't expect the rate of speed to drop along with the new legal limts of 40 and 60 km-hr, later this summer.
But Sgt. O'Keefe believes the city is doing the right thing by reducing the speed limit to address unsafe behaviour of drivers.
He credited one individual constable from Division One - which includes the west end of Hamilton - for recognizing the Cootes Drive speeding problem and taking action.
Sgt. O'Keefe said he didn't have the officer's enforcement statistics for Cootes Drive.
"But I can tell you (he's) a very motivated enforcement officer and I would not be surprised if the numbers were high," Sgt. O'Keefe said.
City of Hamilton traffic technologist Chris van Berkel said the city did not request stepped up speed enforcement on Cootes.
Traffic volumes, recorded by the City of Hamilton in 1999, found an average of 30,916 vehicles travelling Cootes Drive each day. Other traffic counts ranged from 25,858 on one day in 2004, and the city's current estimate of about 27,000 vehicles per day.
A safety review of Cootes Drive by Synectics Transportation Consultants Inc in October 2004 stated traffic flowed freely on Cootes but "motorists were driving in excess of the speed limit and generally did not adjust their speed when pedestrians were observed waiting to cross Cootes Drive."
Synectics speed data showed 85 per cent of drivers travelled up to 100 km-hr in the posted 80 km-h zone.
The study's final report noted significant speeding, even in the posted 60 km-h zone, and stated excessive speed combined with a high volume of pedestrians and bicycles "create a potentially hazardous situation."
The report recommended increased police enforcement and changing the roadside environment - with lane narrowing, roadside shrubs, sculptures and benches - to discourage speeding.
Dundas resident Randy Kay and the group Transportation for Livable Communities have been asking the city to implement lane narrowing and other traffic calming measures on Cootes at the pedestrian controlled crossing. While Mr. Kay welcomed the lower speed limit, he suggested police will have better things to do than speed enforcement in that one area. He'd like to see lane narrowing and other measures in addition to the lower speed limit.