By Stephen Dafoe
I remember when I moved to Morinville four years ago; 100 Ave. had two lanes, angled parking on both sides and plenty of drivers who were courteous enough to actually slow down and let you back out of that angled parking.
Having come from another community where it seemed the majority of drivers seldom bothered to stop for those octagonal red metal things with the word STOP on it, the idea that there was such a thing as vehicle-to-vehicle courtesy struck me as strange – Stephen King strange, in fact.
But when a car would slow down to allow a pedestrian to cross the street (in the middle of the road, no less) I was certain that I had moved into one of those King novels where the residents are creepily nice by day but turn into blood sucking ghouls when the sun sets.
But they didn’t.
The sun rose and drivers patiently waited for cars to back out, waited for cars to turn corners and waited for pedestrians to cross 100 Ave. It was obvious to me that Morinville and its drivers were equally courteous by daylight or moonlight, and I was pleased to have chosen a small town to live in.
Flash forward to the present time and our population has grown, hardly a bad thing. We have a stop light on the corner of 100 Ave. and 100 St. now. There is no more angled parking on 100 Ave. That quaint hometown angled ambiance has been replaced with four lanes of all the 50 kilometre-per-hour traffic one would expect on what is essentially a highway. And the drivers have changed, changed as surely as those Children of the Corn that chased Burt through Gatlin, if you’ve read the book or seen the movie.
Speeding has become a profitable problem on the avenue with photo radar tickets being issued in both directions – one or two at more than twice the posted speed limit.
But most troubling of all are the number of drivers who no longer stop for pedestrians crossing at a crosswalk or drivers who keep driving when a pedestrian is already crossing 100 Ave.
Granted, the road is much wider now without the angled parking, but more than once I’ve crossed 100 Ave. of late to have a truck or car go whipping across the path I’m walking along.
Now I’m not the fastest cat on two feet, to be sure. But I cannot imagine that the length of time it takes me or anyone else to walk across a crosswalk would be a detriment to anyone’s time table or schedule.
Photo radar was a brilliant decision by council and administration, a system that is helping to fund a community centre from the town’s share of tickets issued.
Pity we couldn’t do the same thing with those who fail to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. The fine is around $575, and with what I’ve seen on 100 Ave. this summer, we could have a new hockey arena or community pool in no time.