Seeking calm amid the traffic chaos River Heights group pushes city for changes after vehicle volumes spike on residential street
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Winnipegger Tim Fennell counted more than 4,200 vehicles driving past his Cambridge Street home in just 24 hours last month.
While calling for traffic calming measures, he said an average of 175 vehicles per hour on a “narrow” residential street is far beyond what should be considered safe.
“I believe that the City of Winnipeg has engineered a dangerous situation by continuing to direct more and more traffic on a street that they know was never designed to handle the volume,” he told the Free Press on Monday.
Fennell, a founding member of a residents group called Calm Cambridge, has raised concerns with city hall and council members about a spike in vehicles using the street between Corydon and Academy avenues in River Heights.
He said drivers treat it as a shortcut during construction projects on Harrow and Stafford streets.
“We’d like to see some action taken to calm the traffic, at least slow the traffic down,” said Fennell.
City spokesman Ken Allen said staff are aware of “renewed interest” in calming measures due, in part, to construction leading to more traffic on Cambridge.
“We are currently investigating the situation to determine potential options to address traffic concerns,” he wrote in an email.
Coun. Janice Lukes, chairwoman of the public works committee, said traffic volumes are a concern on several streets near the River Heights/Crescentwood boundary.
She is hoping staff, who receive many requests, will be able to conduct a community traffic calming study.
Lukes said a community plan would be more effective than individual changes.
“When you change something on one street, it’s a domino effect on other streets,” said the councillor for Waverley West. “Traffic is like water. It’s just going to go somewhere else.”
Lukes acknowledged there has been an “incredible” amount of traffic on Cambridge due to road work.
She said traffic calming measures are a priority for city staff.
Coun. John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) said he is working with city employees to address the issues raised by residents.
Fennell has been conducting his own traffic counts on Cambridge, north of Corydon. He uses a motion sensor and street-facing digital camera.
“We’d like to see some action taken to calm the traffic, at least slow the traffic down.”–Tim Fennell
He counted 4,214 vehicles when he went through all the images taken April 26. Much of the traffic was recorded during the morning and afternoon commutes.
Fennell said the section of Cambridge between Corydon and Academy shouldn’t be handling so many vehicles in a single day because it is narrower than the stretch south of Corydon.
He believes thousands more vehicles per day were using the street to avoid congestion around nearby construction projects last summer.
“That’s when we started pushing and saying something has to be done,” said Fennell.
In addition to a long-term solution, his group asked for temporary traffic calming measures in a bid to improve safety and livability.
Fennell is concerned about the safety of his two children and others who live on or use the street.
“We help them cross the street because there are too many cars and they’re going too fast,” he said of his kids.
The speed limit outside his home is 50 km/h.
When he watches vehicles pass by, most drivers appear to be travelling at or just below the limit.
Fennell is in favour of reducing speed limits on residential streets to 30 km/h.
In March, the city lowered speed limits to 30 or 40 km/h on four streets in residential areas as part of a pilot project.
The city will look at whether drivers slow down and whether the change affects livability and quality of life.
In his neighbourhood, Fennell wants the city to consider making physical changes to roadways or turning some into one-way streets.
“We help them (kids) cross the street because there are too many cars and they’re going too fast.”–Tim Fennell
Speed humps were previously installed on Cambridge between Academy and Kingsway.
Ian Walker, chair of Safe Speeds Winnipeg, said he observed a lot of traffic when he visited Cambridge on a recent Friday afternoon.
“It was like it was being used as a collector or arterial street,” he said.
Safe Speeds Winnipeg has lobbied the city to reduce speed limits to 30 km/h in residential areas in a bid to reduce the risk of fatal or serious injury collisions.
The group believes the change would help neighbourhoods thrive and encourage residents to be more active.
As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.