Editorial: Let’s stop shuffling the blame on 100 Avenue problems

So another teen was hit trying to cross 100 Avenue last week. Sprained ankle, light concussion, couple bruises. She was home the next day. She’s lucky because it could have been far worse, even tragic.

I’ve written about the conditions pedestrians face trying to cross 100 Avenue in the past. In fact I’ve done several editorials on 100 Avenue and the shuffle one engages in trying to get from south side to north side or the other way around.

When we ran the article on the vehicle / pedestrian collision online last week, we received many comments. Seems a lot of folks were quick to offer their profound wisdom that the Town of Morinville needs to spend money on traffic lights up and down 100 Avenue instead of on the myriad liquor stores that have opened of late.

While crossing 100 Avenue is akin to the old 80s arcade game Frogger, it seems that some residents in the community think running the town is exactly like playing Sim City, a game where you as ruler of the community determine what businesses and amenities will be opened. It makes me wonder if people are really that uninformed about how things work in a community or if they have visited all five liquor stores before posting their comment. In either case I often wish folks would pull their heads out of their posterior orifices before putting their fingers to the keyboard.

You see, as most of us know, Council does not sit there and say, “You know, I think what this town really needs is a liquor store on every block, a place where the common man or woman can get juiced.” Towns do not open liquor stores, coffee shops, sock stores or convenience stores. They enact bylaws that zone specific areas of town for different classifications of business. Business people take their or borrowed money and invest it in a business they think will provide them a return on their investment. Now whether it is coffee or something a little stronger, customers and how the businesses treat them will determine what survives and what fails. The Town’s only role is in permitting or not permitting a business to open based solely on whether that type of business is permitted, discretionary or prohibited under the zoning bylaw. The town simply has no place or right to say four liquor stores are enough or that two grocery stores or one newspaper is sufficient and all others need not apply.

So the 100 Avenue pedestrian problem is not a matter of the mayor and council having their priorities backwards on funding liquor stores Vs. funding traffic lights.

The matter then is should council order the placement of flashing lights on 100 Avenue. It is a completely valid suggestion and one that might actually remedy another three people getting clipped over the next three months.

But there is a problem with that because 100 Avenue doesn’t belong to the Town of Morinville. Because 100 Avenue is also Highway 642 and because Morinville is just a town, the road falls under the control of Alberta Transportation. That means if someone wants to open a sock store, convenience store, coffee store, or a sixth and seventh liquor store, they are going to have trouble if they want people to enter their business off 100 Avenue. The province doesn’t like it, doesn’t want it and likely won’t permit it. Likewise if the Town wants to close the road for a parade; they have to ask the province for permission. Extending town hall another eight feet towards the road required provincial permission. Placing stop lights along 100 avenue at every cross walk is not going to be a popular request with the province.

Pedestrian safety on 100 Avenue is one of a number of problems the town is facing with what is a provincial highway. But they are working on those problems. A Highway 642 functional study and plan began last year and is continuing this year. Sturgeon County has even come on board to participate in addressing concerns on the parts of the roadway that are in the County. Additionally, Council approved funding a Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Review and Plan. This initiative will examine Morinville’s crosswalks, speed limits, stops and other traffic and pedestrian matters to see how best to handle problem and potential problem areas.

Last Wednesday night’s accident was not liquor related, so we cannot blame the number of liquor stores. It was not weather related, so we cannot blame sanding the roads. As the investigation is ongoing, we do not know what the cause was. But we all know the real problem on 100 Avenue is the number of drivers who believe they can exceed the speed limit, pass drivers who have actually stopped for pedestrians, or whip past a crossing pedestrian as soon as they are past their bumper.

That is and always has been the problem for pedestrians on 100 Avenue. But why address our own driving habits when it is much easier to blame the mayor, council or those who dare to open one liquor store too many?

-SD

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7 Comments

  1. Good editorial Stephen, although more strongly worded than usual for you. I do agree with all your comments. I for one, feel that speed seems to be the major factor involved here and I do not just mean teenagers speeding but people of all ages both men and women. I also believe that either RCMP or the Peace Officers who stop people on the spot with lights flashing etc. actually reduces speeding more than those who hide behind buildings and fences and point radar guns at vehicles going by.

    Linda

  2. Maybe the Town should ask their photo radar contractor to sit in these types of locations rather than in the cash cow “transition” zones leaving Morinville. After all one of the items on the list of criteria for selecting sites to conduct automated traffic enforcement is: “Intersections near schools, post secondary institutions, other areas with high pedestrian volumes.”

    Yesterday as I was coming into town from HWY642 on a SUNDAY MORNING at approximately 10:30am to visit my father who resides in a care home in Morinville – Who do I see sitting with his window open pointing his little photo gun… yes Photo Radar at his famous cash cow site near the pump house leaving town. I don’t recall this as ever being a high collision area or meeting any of the criteria needed to select appropriate sites for photo radar. Especially on a Sunday Morning – come on!

    In fact I would say it meets the following criteria where photo radar should not be used:
    “The use of automated traffic technology in speed transition zones must be justified and reasonable, based on the site selection criteria. Automated traffic technology should not be used in transition zones, when a driver is approaching a higher/lower speed zone and is within sight of a higher/lower posted speed sign, unless there are exigent and well documented safety concerns that would justify its use.”

    Town Residents and Rural residents coming to Morinville to “shop local” Think twice before coming to Morinville for fear of a traffic photo radar ticket or two… Might as well stay on Hwy 2 or Hwy 28 and keep heading into the city where more discretion is used with the site selection of photo radar.

  3. I hear a lot of people going on about being upset over the speed gun being used in what they consider a “speed transition zone”. A speed transition zone is the distance from a sign warning of a lower upcoming speed zone to the sign indicating the new speed. http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/Content/docType233/Production/68SpeedLimitTransitionZones.pdf For example, if you are entering the east side of Town from Hwy 642 you will first come to a 50km/hr sign with a black arrow above the number 50, indicating that you are about to enter a 50km/hr zone. This means you have approx 250-400 meters to slow down, because when you reach that sign your speed under the law, is not to be more than 50km/hr. When you pass this sign over 50km/hr you are in violation.

    The speed radar guy camps out at the pump house and on the pipe line because it’s proven to be a money maker for him, meaning people consistently speed through that area.

    The complaint is that you can see the higher speed sign leaving town and that you should be able to accelerate to it. The pump house is at least 50m from the edge of town and the 100km/hr sign meaning you have to cross a four way intersection during that acceleration. Or when coming into Town, you are indicating that you require that extra distance to decelerate as you pass next to the adjacent residential neighbourhood, again crossing the four way intersection.

    I know it’s been a few years since I got my license but I don’t think it’s changed. You proceed at 50km/hr in a 50 zone and you don’t speed up until you pass the 100km/hr sign. The only recognized acceleration and deceleration zones are the marked areas on and off of Provincial and Federal Hwys.

    Personally I can’t wait for the new traffic circle to be built. The contractor is quite correct in stating that severe collisions will be reduced, but what wasn’t divulged was that single car accidents according to stats will increase dramatically. Apparently traffic circles are like fly paper for bad drivers, especially for those who like to speed.

    It’s simple really, obey the posted signage or pay the piper when you get caught.

  4. Couldn’t agree more with Natalie here.
    I can’t remember seeing a single accident at the infamous pump house photo radar location, yet I see photo radar there more often than anywhere else, including on 100ave, school zones, and construction zones.

    Perhaps Mr. Dafoe would be open to writing a column on how photo radar works, and who decides which spots get monitored on which days, as I genuinely don’t know for sure, but I suspect there is two problems here.

    1) I’m guessing the RCMP points out a few different locations as acceptable, but the private company administering the radar gets at least some input in deciding which location to visit that day. They are concerned with the money of the operation, not traffic safety and should not be involved at all in this decision.

    2) The town has linked photo radar revenue to paying off the Community Cultural Centre. A beautiful and useful building absolutely, but paying it off is a bit out of our league, so the town has enormous pressure to agree to monitoring of the most profitable spots, rather than the spots that increase safety.

    As far as I’m concerned, this is a no-brainer. We have one location (100 ave) where there is high risk for injury, and MANY accidents happening, with LOW enforcement. Then we have a second location with low risk for injury, and very few accidents with HIGH enforcement.

    I don’t think the town or the RCMP can say a word about pedestrian safety until they fix the above.

    • We are planning just such an article in the not too distant future. I think there is both a desire for the public to know how it all works and likely a desire for the Town to clarify their position on what for good or for ill is so often referred to as a cash cow.

  5. Photo radar is not a cash cow or cash grab. It is one tool that municipalities use to help enforce the POSTED speed limit. Only those who do not obey the law pay into the “cash cow”. Everyone else just keeps going their quiet way. I fully support the photo radar being out by the pump house. I personally know of three people who have been caught or should have been caught doing upwards of 150km/hr BEFORE they hit the highway and the 100km/hr sign. As to the idea that having the photo radar over near the scene of the recent rash of pedestrian accidents I say this; it won’t stop them, I even doubt it will seriously reduce them. A large part of the problem is driver indifference and pedestrian ignorance. People driving too fast/recklessly/inattentively and pedestrians thinking they can do whatever they want. Sure, you can walk out into the street anytime you like but that goofball coming down the road who can’t be bothered to pay attention for you is going to run over you with his 3 ton death machine.

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