Friday, November 30, 2007

speed addict

Speed study puts Cootes limit under microscope

City will see if reduction near Mac had any effect

Craig Campbell
Published on Nov 30, 2007

Local drivers should know next week if anyone's following the new speed limit on Cootes Drive.

City of Hamilton traffic staff is currently reviewing the speed reduction made during the summer on the busy thoroughfare near Main Street West.

Dundas councillor Russ Powers said he wanted some analysis of the change, and the traffic department needed about six months to have appropriate data for an informed decision.

Tubes were stretched across all lanes of Cootes Drive earlier this week, about six months since the reduction.

City traffic technologist Chris van Berkel said the equipment keeps track of both traffic volume and speed. It was to record information for three days.

"We're interested in speed, we know the volumes," Mr. van Berkel said. "We want to see if the speed reduction has had an effect."

Mr. Powers said he was not very happy with the speed reduction from 60 km-h to 40 km-h for a section of Cootes Drive around a controlled pedestrian crosswalk when it was made in the summer.

He told the October meeting of his Dundas Community Council everyone he spoke to was fine with a speed drop from 80 km-h to 60 km-h but not the additional drop to 40 at the crosswalk.

Mr. Powers said he's suggested an increase in the current 40 km-h zone back to 60 km-h.

He and west Hamilton councillor Brian McHattie have already met once with traffic staff, and expect to review results of this week's speed study.

The speed reduction was part of an ongoing but troublesome effort to improve traffic and pedestrian safety on Cootes Drive.

Just a few months after new traffic lights were placed on the street to provide control for a McMaster University pedestrian crossing, a student from the school was struck and killed.

A Hamilton police Speedwatch at the crosswalk has found pedestrians crossing without activating the lights. Other observers have argued driver speeding is a problem.

Results from this week's speed study should be available next week. Mr. Powers expects local stakeholders, including McMaster, to discuss possible options to improve the traffic situation with recommendations potentially going to the public works committee of council before the end of the year.

The organization Transportation for Livable Communities has been calling for more traffic calming methods to be used in conjunction with the controlled crosswalk and speed reduction, including a lane reduction at the crosswalk.

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