Do you speak ‘traffic calming’?

Street signs in Leaside. Staff photo.
Street signs in Leaside. Staff photo.

I want to share some thoughts on Leaside’s traffic situation, as the LRA awaits further information and recommendations from the Leaside Neighbourhood Transportation Plan (LNTP) team. It occurs to me that we are not necessarily all speaking the same language when we talk about traffic calming.

Most residents I have heard from expect and hope that the LNTP’s calming proposals will lead to a reduction in both traffic speed AND traffic volume, and on all of Leaside’s streets.

In fact, many traffic engineers regard traffic calming as a way of addressing traffic speed, but not volume. We hope this is not the approach of the LNTP planners, as it would mean that many streets where the problem is primarily high traffic volume, like Millwood Rd., Southvale Dr. and Broadway Ave., may not actually be considered eligible for calming measures like stop signs, speed pads and so on.

You may be aware that changes in traffic signals and signage need to meet formal thresholds in a list of criteria, or what engineers call “warrants.” These warrants are meant to ensure consistency across the city. However, if proposed but busy streets do not meet these criteria, they are less likely to be approved. 

Are warrants always the best way of making these decisions? Are they used as a way to avoid change? I hope not. A one-size-fits-all, formulaic approach can be too restrictive. And it would leave out streets throughout Leaside which need help.

I hope when the LNTP planners produce their proposals for Leaside, they will be flexible enough to find the best measures for each location, even if it means redefining their terminology.

Looking back…

While sorting through my personal traffic files, I re-read some of the notes I took at the well-attended 2019 Leaside Town Hall. The questions and concerns you raised five years ago made for interesting and dispiriting reading. We still have the same issues in 2023 we had in 2019. In all too many cases we have the same problems. Some of them are even worse.

Traffic congestion throughout Leaside has not abated. The annual spring traffic increase approaches. If you pay attention to rush-hour traffic you will see far more cars than pre-pandemic, and more of them have just one driver. As well, there are more heavy construction vehicles driving on our residential streets thanks to increased development pressures. Transit remains delayed. Local democracy takes a hit because the provincial government interferes more in city and neighbourhood planning.

At all levels of government, Leasiders have a long – and well-earned – reputation for speaking up and getting involved in the issues affecting our neighbourhood. Keep at it! As I have said in the past, Leaside is worth fighting for. If we work together, with purpose, we can effect change.

Next meeting

The Leaside Residents Association board meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month, at the Trace Manes building on Rumsey, just south of Leaside Library. You are welcome to join us there. Depute on issues important to you, ask questions, have your say, or just listen. 

Our next monthly meeting is on April 3rd. For more details and updates on Leaside issues between now and then, or to become an LRA member, go to leasideresidents.ca and press the Contact Us button, or at leasideresidents.ca/contact-us.   

About Carol Burtin Fripp 139 Articles
Carol Burtin Fripp is Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, and is Chair of the LRA's Traffic Committee. Over the years, she has served on numerous East York and City task forces. Now a retired television producer (TVO and CBC), she writes Leaside Life's monthly LRA column, and has created a daily international current affairs newsletter read from Newfoundland to New Zealand.