You might have noticed two things if you happened to be driving westbound on 100 Avenue near the pump house during rush hour Thursday night: The photo radar truck was parked there looking eastbound for those rushing to get out of town, and a guy was standing on the sidewalk with a camera pointed towards the west. I was the man with the camera.
After our interview and story with the McCann family on the death of their dog, Zero, and the family’s desire to curb what they see as an ongoing speeding problem near 87 Street, I decided to do a little experiment of my own by photographing the educational speed sign there. I didn’t realize the photo radar truck was there when I began the experiment, but quickly came to understand why the speeds my camera caught were at or well below the posted speed limit.
The Town of Morinville has just released the second quarter numbers for 2013. Integrated Traffic Services indicate “the sign located on 100 Avenue near 87 Street has continued to capture a high incidence (21%) of vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit, with the highest capture in the second quarter of 155 [kilometres per hour].”
Morinville’s eastern boundary clearly has a speeding problem. What that speeding problem is has largely been framed from the perspective of whether one is for or against photo radar. Whether people speed as a matter of habit, defiance or simply by not paying attention to posted speeds, it is pretty evident in the statistics that the speed sign or speed limit sign are slowing down 79 per cent of drivers heading west on Highway 642.
The problem is if they are slowing down when they see their speed on the educational sign, they are not slowing down prior to 87 Street, where I personally witnessed six out of six drivers do a rolling stop at the stop sign as they drove onto the highway. That is a T-bone waiting to happen. If visitors and residents in the Sunshine Lake neighbourhood won’t stop at the actual stop sign, perhaps they and others are unlikely to do so if there are three of them as the McCann’s propose. That is not to say a three-way stop is not one potential solution, merely there may be others.
The Town of Morinville has advocated for the province has approved a change in speed zone on that stretch of highway so there is an intermediary speed between the 100 km/h and 50 km/h zone. It could be 70 km/h or 60 km/h. This will certainly slow honest drivers as it does on Highway 2 entering and leaving St. Albert; however, the Town could and should take another step. Instead of having the speed education sign slow drivers after they have past East Boundary Road and 87 Street, why not move the education sign further east between 87 and East Boundary Road. That way drivers are slowed by the transition in speed and those going a little too fast for the flashing sign’s liking can get a reminder to slow down some before they reach 87 Street.
Though needing the approval of Alberta Transportation, it is neither a costly or unlikely option, and it is an idea one Town councillor found to be sound when she stopped to see why a local news guy was photographing a speed sign on 100 Avenue.
Work on traffic safety is being done here. As we enter the start of another school year, the addition of zebra markings and flashing crossing lights at school and other key crossings is an inexpensive and welcome addition to the community’s safety picture.
Although it is unlikely to be popular with many in the downtown core, increasing the no parking zone another five metres from the corners will improve visibility for pedestrians crossing the road and for motorists trying to cross 100 Avenue or 100 Street.
It is in small sensible measures that traffic and pedestrian safety can be improved. Some drivers will still be clocked going 155 km/h in a 50 km/h zone and drivers will continue to roll up on crossing pedestrians in anticipation of that pedestrian being far enough past their bumper that they can go on their speedy little way. Some drivers will continue to do U-turns or park on a provincial highway and truckers will continue to race down the off ramp using their jake brakes. It has often been said a ticket is a strong reminder to obey the rules. The greater deterrent is the loss of demerit points and that only comes when a driver is pulled over by police or bylaw officers.