February 18th, 2018

Boulevard of barriers

By Lethbridge Herald on December 6, 2017.

A cyclist makes his way past a diversion structure as part of the bike boulevard the city recently constructed along 7 Avenue South between 4 Street and Mayor Magrath Drive. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

J.W. Schnarr
Lethbridge Herald
Some residents in the area of Lethbridge’s new “Bike Boulevard” have expressed concerns over drivers ignoring vehicle diversion measures put in place.
At a Lethbridge Police Commission meeting last week, a member of the public asked about enforcement regarding changes made to 7 Avenue South, expressing a number of concerns involving drivers circumventing the safety features on the road.
These issues include speeding, driving over sidewalks located in the new traffic circles or ignoring the circles completely to make left turns, or circumventing the traffic diversion efforts by using handicap ramps to drive across sidewalks — allowing the drivers to continue travelling down the avenue.
The complainant stated they walk the avenue daily and had witnessed numerous examples of drivers circumventing those safety features, and asked if police enforcement was planned for the area.
Insp. Tom Ashcroft said he was unaware of any collisions on the avenue and explained that traffic enforcement relies on deterrence.
“We have no expectation that we’re going to catch everybody that breaks every traffic law,” he said. “It’s more of an overall general deterrent.
“But in terms of if we would leave a police (officer) to watch a traffic circle, it would be very unlikely that would happen.
He said enforcement decisions are often made by analyzing collision data.
“If there has been a spike in collisions at a certain location, then a traffic officer would be assigned to go figure out why, and take appropriate action,” he said.
Some residents who live in homes along the street have said the majority of traffic obeys the new rules accompanying alterations made to the road. A small number of vehicles, however, may be driving in an inappropriate manner.
Kevin Maclean, with the Upper Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association, said the community group is aware that discussions over traffic are taking place and that, as an organization, they are continuing to monitor the situation, and could do so until next summer.
“Our opinion as a board and association is that it’s early days for us to cast any kind of judgment on its success or failure,” he said. “Really, these changes have been put in place in the past six weeks. And, in all fairness, any time there is a change, it’s often the case that people don’t respect those changes immediately.”
A statement from the London Road Neighbourhood Association read some complaints the organization has received involved cars driving through the middle of the traffic circles after a snowfall — but before they were completed. The presumption was that drivers might not have been aware of the exact location of the installations under the snow.
They also stated a number of complaints they have received appeared to have come from residents who were not in favour of the changes to the avenue to begin with. On the other hand, they have heard from others in the area who are very supportive of the changes.
Several residents east of 13 Street South along 7 Avenue said they were overall satisfied with the changes and that the actions of a few did not diminish the improvements made to the avenue.
Maclean said area residents should report issues they witness to the police.
“As a neighbourhood organization, our job isn’t enforcement,” he said. “We recommend that any resident who sees behaviour that is not legal, we’re encouraging them to call the police and let them know,” he said. “It’s possible some of those new features might require some level of enforcement if they are not being respected and observed.”
Lethbridge police confirmed they have not received any complaints regarding inappropriate driving along the road.
The City is planning on providing a project update early next week.
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