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Improving safety on Bradford West Gwillimbury's 'transportation systems' is goal of Audit

Making safety concerns part of a Master Transportation Plan
2020-05-03SidewalktactileplateMK-01
New section of sidewalk recently installed in downtown Bradford, with tactile plate near intersection. Miriam King/Bradford Today

Part of the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury’s Master Transportation Plan involves a Road Safety and AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) audit, that staff began last year.

Through the audit, staff looked at a number of safety-related issues: the town’s street lighting, the presence of tactile plates at intersections to help guide the disabled, speed limits in areas of pedestrian activity, pedestrian connections and walkways, cycling routes, and signage.

On Tuesday night, an update of the audit was provided to town council – along with a number of recommendations for future action.

Street lighting was one of the key aspects studied. The staff report noted that in 2018, new standards for lighting were introduced – IESNA Standard RP-18– but only one recent subdivision in Bradford has installed the new lighting.

The report recommended the replacement of streetlights, to follow the newest guidelines.

Coun. Raj Sandhu took exception to the suggestion that the cost might fall on taxpayers.

“It’s just a guideline. Why are we stuck with going back and spending tax dollars?” he asked. He suggested having developers pay, or only upgrading the streetlights that need immediate replacing.

“Why fix something that is not broken right now?” Sandhu asked.

Author of the report Joe Coleman, Manager of Transportation, was quick to agree that the new lighting is just a guideline, and not mandated. “We don’t necessarily have to follow RP18,” Coleman said.

One of the recommendations of the report is that staff look into the cost and timing of any required upgrades to the town’s street lighting system, to meet the prevalent standards, but Coleman agreed that this could be limited to replacement, and to dimly lit areas where poor lighting is identified as a problem.

“There may be some areas that are dimmer than others, that could need upgrading,” Chief Administrative Officer Geoff McKnight confirmed in the meeting; otherwise, the upgrades will be part of a program of replacement.

Other future actions identified in the audit:

. Carrying out an inventory of tactile plates, as required at intersections under the AODA, and looking at the cost and scheduling of plate installation at intersections during capital projects, development and sidewalk maintenance.

. A safety audit of pedestrian connections, to review sidewalk crossings at intersections and mid-block, look at ways to reduce “potential pedestrian conflict with motorized traffic,” and assess the safety of sidewalks, pathways, roads and trails. A report on required improvements and associated costs “to ensure they meet adequate safety standards” will be presented at a later date, said McKnight.

. Sign reflectivity, especially of stop signs, is a concern. All reflective signs are required to be as visible at night as they are during the day, but as signs age they tend to become less reflective. Currently, the town replaces faded signs, when they are noticed. The audit recommends hiring a consultant to set up a “robust and inclusive inventory system that can be updated actively.” STOP signs would be a priority.

Coun. Sandhu questioned the need to hire a consultant. “We don’t have anyone on our staff who can do that?” he asked.

Coleman replied that the town has neither the staff nor the equipment to measure reflectivity. It would be less costly to hire someone to provide the preliminary inventory, he said, than to try to carry out the work in-house.

As for the suggestion that developers should pay for the signage, Coleman noted that it isn’t only developers who install reflective signs.

“We put up the signs as well. After years of use, they do fade,” he said. “This is proactive. We’ve been reactive before; now we’re trying to be pro-active,” in identifying signs with reduced reflectivity.

. Cycling facilities will be dealt with as part of the Transportation Master Plan. The report noted, “Council will evaluate options and determine whether the municipality will move forward with an integrated approach or dedicated off-street lanes for cyclists.”

. Speeding was also discussed, and the report recommended monitoring of speeding on various “problem” roads, with a numerical analysis of traffic patterns and a policy of “Education, Enforcement and Engineering.”

Town response will depend on the speeds recorded, the report proposed. Above the 85th percentile, if traffic is travelling 11 to 15 km over the speed limit, the focus will be on education, using a radar message board to alert drivers to their actual speed.

If the area is a Community Safety Zone or vehicles are regularly clocked at 16 kmph or more over the speed limit, enforcement would be added to Education.

And in Community Safety Zones or areas where education and enforcement fail to curb speeders, the town will also look at engineering, including additional signage and traffic calming measures.

Coun. Gary Lamb supported the policy of education, enforcement and engineering, in a lengthy commentary that criticized some drivers for ignoring signs and parking too close to intersections, and others for speeding eastbound on Line 8, east of Wood Crescent, travelling “75 kmph in a 50 kmph zone.”

“I think this is a really good step,” Lamb said, praising the monitoring of actual speed levels. “We all get the phone calls. We all get the emails,” reporting that “everybody” is travelling at 100 kmph in 40 kmph zones, he said - but enforcement often finds that it is only one or two drivers are speeding.

Council voted to receive the report, and ask staff to come back with more information on costs and timing of implementation.

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Miriam King

About the Author: Miriam King

Miriam King is a journalist and photographer with Bradford Today, covering news and events in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.
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