One of the recurring topics on Fredericton council candidates’ web sites is the issue of speeding. Seems that it’s a problem everywhere and candidates are promising all kinds of solutions. One must be careful what you wish for, or else you may get it, and it won’t be what you asked for. Let’s take this abomination as an example:

This is the Adams St. Traffic Circle. It’s not a roundabout, it’s a failabout. It was put in to address the concerns of a few loud complainers. It’s too bad it doesn’t actually work and may even make things worse. Although it’s hard to tell from the picture, it’s not quite in the centre. This is presumbly so the snowplough can make it past. This also means that when going in one direction, cars don’t actually have to slow down. In the other direction, cars have to slow to a near stop in order to make it through. Many (including transit buses) just go around it the wrong way. In fact, many speeders just go through it the wrong way anyway.

How do we prevent that?

First of all, you can promise to restore the police force’s traffic unit. They used to have three cars that just handed out tickets and responded to problem areas. Now, the cops just rotate the traffic jobs. You can also promise to listen to them when they do complain about speeding traffic.

Next, you will need to use science to prove that there is a speeding problem. Traffic counters also record speed so if the average speed is higher than the speed limit, then it has been proven that there is a real problem. The next step is for city staff to come up with a design of the calming measure (such as speed bumps). The citizens will then have to go to every house on the street and ask them if they want a speed bump in front of their house. If they can get enough people to agree, speed bumps will be put in.

This is exactly how it was done on McGibbon St. Science proved that there was a problem, the residents acted on it and got high-speed speed bumps installed. These allow cars to go over them at 40km/h, and don’t impact emergency vehicle response times as much as the low-speed ones.

Another idea is to install bike lanes. These will make the road look narrower and slow down the traffic.

If you do hear a lot of complaints about speeding traffic, remember that knee-jerk reactions don’t always work.