Where do we fail to #GoSlowPtbo?

Where are Peterborians concerned about speedy drivers?

On November 4th, 2020, I officially launched the #GoSlowPtbo campaign – right before the ground froze!

Now, at the midpoint of the campaign, 161 signs have been delivered to 140 separate addresses.   By Valentine’s Day, signs were on 133 city lawns and 7 signs had been placed on properties in Otonabee-South Monaghan, Selwyn, and Cavan Monaghan.

To date, the prize for the sign placed furthest away from Peterborough goes to the Village of Seagrave, in the Township of Scugog; certainly a testament to the coverage given by CHEX News on Global Peterborough!

Many people included comments with their sign orders, explaining their concerns and why it was important for them to send a message out to drivers to #GoSlow.

This is some of what I read:

Four swings hang from a maple tree near a residential road.
Front yards are an extension of outdoor space that also place children in closer proximity to road hazards.
  • There is a park across the street and people speed around the corner;
  • We live on a super busy corner and have been trying to get a yield sign on our corner;
  • I am a caregiver for a senior who needs help to cross the road to access an activity centre located on a busy street;
  • We are doing virtual school and our neighbours are not accustomed to kids playing outside on weekdays;
  • I have children on my street and some of the residents drive too fast;
  • My kids almost got hit by a car last year waiting for the school bus;
  • We have four swings on a huge maple in our front yard for our grandchildren when they visit; and

“Hopefully, people will get the message!”

Mapping the Results

Anytime you build a spreadsheet it’s an opportunity to learn, so I sent the spreadsheet of addresses to a skilled cartographic friend, and he created a heat map.  A heat map provides an easy visual of where signs are located using colour to represent the frequency of signs as they appear across the landscape.  The more signs that are clustered on a specific street or neighbourhood, the darker or more intense the colour.  

A heat map of Peterborough showing the predominant areas within Peterborough where Go Slow lawn signs have been requested.
This heat map represents the distribution of #GoSlowPtbo signs within Peterborough at the halfway point of the campaign.

Yes, there is bias in the analysis, most notably the ‘nearest neighbour’ effect.  I noticed that when one or two signs went up on lawns in a specific area, folks on surrounding streets would notice and orders would start to come in.  This also supports a theory of unintentional collaboration – a neighbourhood approach to a common concern.

What we can generally infer from the map is that there are several locations, in all five wards, where people feel strongly that speed is an issue. By placing a sign, they have taken action to improve safety on their street and to ensure that others are safe, particularly children.

Referring to the darkest circles on the map as hotspots, we can see that the most notable hotspot is in Ward 4, Ashburnham. This hotspot is bisected by Otonabee Drive, a high-capacity collector road.  Hills and blind corners are features of this area, so it is easy to see how road design and topography must go hand-in-hand if we want to design safe, resilient communities.

A smaller hotspot has been generated by citizens in Ward 3 – Town Ward.  Centred just to the west of busy Monaghan Road, considered to be a ‘medium capacity arterial street’ in the city’s Draft Traffic Calming Policy,  this area of concern is largely residential.  It is roughly located south of Queen Mary Public School and north of Stannor Drive/Hastings Park.  It extends to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre to the west and includes Walkerfield and Homewood Avenues, as well as Gilmour Street W. at its epicentre.

Smaller hotspots – let’s call them ‘warm’ spots – are evident predominately in the southern two-thirds of the city, broadly distributed from east to west.  With few exceptions, the call for reduced speed is from residents in local neighbourhoods. The hot and warm spot zones are also impacted by close proximity to collector and arterial roads.

Next Steps

With a little over 100 signs still in my basement, a spring re-launch of the #GoSlowPtbo campaign is in order, but it is also time to start moving the bar from awareness to action!

Many city councils in Ontario, and across Canada, are endorsing Vision Zero Principles.  These principles align with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which states that, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person…” That means on roads, sidewalks and trails! The designs of these important pieces of infrastructure should protect our rights; the car should not be king, long live the vulnerable road user!

Icons of cyclists and pedestrians moving freely and then in collisions with a car.

Photo courtesy of the Active Transportation & Health 2020 Indicators Report: Peterborough City & County.

In fact, Vision Zero indicates that NO loss of life from transportation-related accidents is acceptable, and champions a move away from the traditional three ‘E’ road safety philosophy of Engineering, Education and Enforcement to a ‘Safe Systems Approach’.  To quote from the Vision Zero Canada website:

“The Safe Systems Approach is an evidence-based approach focusing on infrastructure, vehicle regulation and speed limits designed to protect all road users”.

Subscribing to Vision Zero Principles means shifting the responsibility for road safety from vulnerable road users to safe road design and lower speed limits.

To close off, I leave you with this video produced by the City of Edmonton, the first city in Canada to adopt Vision Zero.

If you agree with me and think that your city council should endorse Vision Zero Principles – tell them!



2 thoughts on “Where do we fail to #GoSlowPtbo?”

  1. Anything in the works, like Calgary (down to 40km/h) or Toronto (down to 30km/h) for Peterborough? It seems strange that a smaller city would allow faster traffic (50km/h), especially since many do at least 10-20km/h over the maximum.

    1. Great observation!

      The Mayor and some members of council are advocating for a safe systems approach to reduce the risk of injury due to collisions. This can mean a combination of increased education, lowering speed limits, and creating road designs with elements that challenge motorists to negotiate streets more carefully. Ensuring safe roads and roadsides is also an important factor, and protected bike lanes would be a good example of a safe systems transportation planning initiative.

      If you click on the Vision Zero link in the body of the blog, you can read more about holistic approaches to calming traffic and how to make Peterborough’s streets safer!

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