Special Report: Walkable Streets

Queen Street Needs Better Than Speed Limit Signs

A horrific crash on Queen this morning highlights the inadequacy of the new 40 km/h speed limit signs to reduce dangerous speeding on this multi-lane one-way arterial street.

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published October 05, 2017

This morning, there was a terrible motor vehicle collision at the corner of Queen Street South and Charlton Avenue West which resulted in a car flipped upside-down on its roof, landing right on the sidewalk.

Police investigating a motor vehicle crash at Queen and Charlton
Police investigating a motor vehicle crash at Queen and Charlton

The City of Hamilton clearly needs to do more to protect public safety than just install 40 km/h speed limit signs on Queen Street South, which it did this summer as a consolation for the failed attempt to implement two-way conversion and/or meaningful traffic calming on this dangerous one-way arterial.

Clearly, the vehicles in this collision were not travelling at 40 km/h. It has been my experience that many motorists either have not noticed the new speed limit signs or are not complying with the speed limit.

In September, I contacted the City and asked if they could at least install "NEW" signs with the 40 km/h speed limit signs to alert motorists to the fact that the legal speed limit has changed.

I received the following reply from Public Works: "The City does not install NEW signs for the installation of speed limit signs. Due to the amount of signs we install throughout the City and with the amount of modifications we make, this would be an very large burden on our operations and costly."

In contrast, the City has installed multiple "NEW" signs, including 500 metres both to the east and west of the intersection, to alert motorists that the traffic signal cycle has been modified at Dundurn Street South and Aberdeen Avenue.

This would seem to be a much more minor and obvious change than lowering the speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h on a minor arterial street with a history of major collisions!

Surely, this morning's collision is going to cost the City far more than a few temporary signs. Queen is an arterial street and it is unusual to have a 40 km/h speed limit. In addition, a pedestrian crossing is being installed at Herkimer.

Children walk right through these intersections every day on their way to and from school, on a street with a history of serious collisions. The City's minimal efforts so far to reduce dangerous speeding and improve safety for all road users are not good enough.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.

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By theninjasquad (registered) - website | Posted October 05, 2017 at 11:35:34

I think it is premature to say if this was speed related. It is actually pretty easy to flip a car if you hit it in the right spot no matter what the speed. For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_wrrIHO...

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By OliverV (registered) | Posted October 05, 2017 at 12:15:19

Speed is ALWAYS a factor.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 05, 2017 at 20:03:23

The City of Hamilton clearly needs to do more to protect public safety than just install 40 km/h speed limit signs on Queen Street South

I agree. This is a good location for the City of Hamilton to designate as a Community Safety Zone and implement Automatic Speed Enforcement (ASE). The Ontario legislation for Automatic Speed Enforcement received Royal Assent on May 30, 2017. The Ontario government is currently working on regulations to enable cities such as Hamilton to use ASE in school zones and Community Safety Zones. This should be in place in the spring/summer of 2018.

Police cannot be present all the time. ASE can. I venture to predict that when the probability of being caught and fined is 100%, there will be an immediate and sharp decline in motor vehicle operators engaging in this extraordinarily dangerous behaviour.

For more information, see:

https://news.ontario.ca/mto/en/2017/05/o...

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