*City tests school-zone beacons donated by businessman*
* Amber markers await green light *
BUSINESSMAN Chuck Lewis is hoping to begin installing flashing amber
lights, which he wants to buy for city school zones, before Christmas.
Lewis said he provided one of the beacons, which is undergoing a two-stage
testing process, to the city earlier this month.
“They’re the same beacons that have been installed all across Toronto, so I
can’t see there being any problems because I’m sure Toronto tested them,
too, before they installed them,” Lewis said.
Lewis, general manager of Expert Electric, has offered to purchase and
install solar-powered flashing amber lights for all reduced-speed school
zones in the city.
A civic spokeswoman said there are 225 schools that have reduced-speed
Each light costs around $3,500, with two lights per zone — one for each
traffic direction on an adjacent street. The minimum cost of the initiative
would be $1.575 million. Some schools have more than one adjacent
reduced-speed street, adding more lights and higher costs to the equation.
Surprisingly, for a gift with such a large price tag, the city has acted
Lewis approached the city with the idea four years ago but was rejected by
officials, who claimed the province wouldn’t allow him to do it.
Coun. Kevin Klein heard about Lewis’s original offer shortly after taking
office following the 2018 election, and in early July, raised it at the
Assiniboia community committee. The committee endorsed it and recommended
the offer to the property and development committee, which deals with
offers of gifts to the city. The committee also supported the offer and
instructed the administration to investigate.
The administration prepared a report for the committee’s Sept. 4 meeting
endorsing the offer and said a formal legal agreement would be drafted and
brought back to the committee. What the public service didn’t tell the
committee, however, was that the public works department wanted the lights
tested before an agreement would be drafted and signed.
Lewis said testing the lights before the city agreed to accept the offer
“There’s no point in me giving them several hundred beacons only to learn
they won’t stand up to our conditions, but I don’t see how they won’t.”
Lewis said he was surprised to learn that even with the committee’s
direction in September, civic officials were hesitant to buy the one light
needed for testing.
“They said they didn’t want me to provide a light that they might possibly
wreck during the testing phase, but they said no one at city hall was
willing to sign off on the purchase of the one light they needed for the
test,” Lewis said. “Can you believe it? It only cost about $3,500 to buy,
but no one was willing to approve the purchase. I said, ‘What the heck,
I’ll buy it.’ I’m going to buy them all, anyway.”
Once approved, the lights will be installed on the same posts that the
reduced-speed signs are posted on. They’ll be programmed to flash only
during the time stipulated in the bylaw and posted on the signs: 7 a.m. to
5:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, from September to June.
Coun. Brian Mayes, chairman of the property and development committee, said
councillors will get an update on the initiative at a meeting on Monday.
Lewis said the city set up the beacon at one of its works yards two weeks
ago for a month-long testing period, adding that will be followed by a
second month-long test in a school zone.
David Patman, the city’s manager of transportation, told the committee at
its Sept. 4 meeting the testing is necessary to ensure it meets regulatory
standards and so the city is not exposed to any future liabilities.
Lewis is convinced the testing is only a formality.
“They said after one month, if it passes all their tests, it will be put at
a school for a month. Then after that, it’s a go,” he said.
“They seemed happy with it the last time I talked to them about it. There
were no concerns.”
*Shared streets create vibrancy *
WHEN it comes to moving around our cities, Canadians live in a world of
rules — green lights, yellow lights, red lights, speed limits, crosswalks,
countdowns, no parking, no stopping, no riding on the sidewalk.
All these rules are intended to order pedestrians, drivers and cyclists
into individual corridors where each can move with blind obedience to
lights and signs. They are designed to keep vehicles moving quickly, and
naturally prioritize traffic flow for the largest, fastest and most
dangerous road users.
Sometimes a street has a different purpose, a different story to tell. Some
streets are more importantly a great place than a great connector. To be
this, they must be designed first as somewhere to linger, not to move
A street can be the social and economic heart of its community. Those with
a strong sense of place can entice people to the sidewalks and public
spaces, key to making urban neighbourhoods attractive places to live, work,
shop and socialize. But when vehicle speed is prioritized, these streets
feel less safe and become less attractive to sit near, live on or walk
along. And as they attract fewer people, the businesses falter, the appeal
to new residents decreases and the neighbourhood begins to decline.
About 30 years ago, a Dutch traffic engineer named Hans Monderman looked at
the design of low-traffic streets and considered ways to prioritize all
users equally, to make streets safe, vibrant and attractive places for
people. His radical solution was to get rid of the rules completely,
calling the idea a “shared street.”
Imagine sitting on a bench, enjoying a coffee, and the street in front of
you looks more like a public plaza than a road. There are no curbs, and no
sidewalks. Spaces are defined with trees, planters, benches and outdoor
cafés. The paving pattern on the road surface appears as a single,
beautiful piece of public art where parents pushing strollers, people
riding bikes and even drivers in slow-moving cars mix seamlessly in a
choreographed kaleidoscope of movement.
It sounds like a utopian fantasy that would in reality lead to carnage in
the streets, like a scene from a Mad Max movie, but shared streets exist
around the world. They are counterintuitive and initially almost always met
with skepticism, but they often work.
In the absence of signage, lights and defined areas for each road user,
people rely on social interaction to define their space. Instead of
robotically following traffic signals, the natural uncertainty of the
environment causes drivers to instinctively slow down (typically to 10
km/h) and become more engaged with other road users.
People stop looking at signs and begin looking at each other. A pedestrian
makes eye contact with a driver — a nod to go ahead, a wave, and they each
proceed. When done successfully, the street becomes a place where everyone
is equal, creating a safe and welcoming environment that can transform the
character of an entire neighbourhood.
Now imagine you are watching this scene in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.
Coun. Vivian Santos is hoping this will become reality, recently bringing
forward a motion which proposes a pilot project for a shared-streets
concept on Bannatyne Avenue and Albert and Arthur streets, adjacent to Old
Market Square. The motion was approved to proceed by a public works
The idea came out of recent debate about the challenges of incorporating
loading zones that are being displaced by bike lanes required to protect
cyclists from higher-speed vehicle traffic. The shared-streets concept
maintains vehicle access, allowing loading to occur for local businesses,
and eliminates the need for bike lanes because of the inherent safety of
reduced traffic speeds.
The proposal has these pragmatic roots, but it represents a much greater
opportunity to introduce a new level of vibrancy to the Exchange District,
helping to make it the destination and livable neighbourhood that it has
the potential to be.
Cities across the world are embracing the idea of shared streets. Most
began with similar pilot projects to familiarize people with the idea, and
the concept is almost always embraced and expanded. Montreal has now
implemented more than seven kilometres of shared and pedestrian streets,
and offers financial grants to neighbourhoods wanting to create them across
Halifax recently transformed two major downtown routes into shared streets,
with great success, creating more people-focused spaces that support the
vitality of downtown.
The notoriously car-centric city of Auckland, New Zealand, has used the
shared-streets idea to transform its city centre into a vibrant,
pedestrian- focused neighbourhood. A program was developed in 2011 to
implement the strategy, and today seven downtown streets are shared space.
The results have been overwhelmingly successful, increasing pedestrian
volumes by 54 per cent and consumer spending by 47 per cent, and
three-quarters of all property owners claim it has added value to their
The number of vehicles has fallen by 25 per cent, far fewer collisions have
occurred and about 80 per cent of people surveyed say they feel safer in
Winnipeggers are traditionally resistant to change, but the proposal to
implement a shared streets pilot project in the Exchange District is an
exciting opportunity to look at how we move through our city in a new way.
Back-in diagonal parking was introduced a few years ago, to high levels of
public skepticism, but after a pilot program, it has become a successful
The physical character of the Exchange is similar to popular shared-street
precedents in other cities, and represents an opportunity to create a new
type of public space that makes streets safer while supporting businesses
and residents. It is a progressive step forward in the goal of redefining
our downtown as a vibrant and prosperous place for people.
*Brent Bellamy is creative director at Number Ten Architectural Group.*
*Councillors question whether increased traffic revenues sending message to
* WPS official grilled on pedestrian safety *
WHILE A Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) finance manager was bragging about a
22 per cent rise in traffic enforcement revenue, two councillors Friday
grilled her over whether police work was making city streets any safer.
Tara Holowka told the city’s finance committee that while revenue from
photo enforcement was down 10 per cent in 2019 compared to the same period
in 2018, revenue from traditional enforcement was up 22 per cent.
“So, good news on that side,” she said, adding the number of tickets issued
by traffic officers was running 46 per cent ahead of 2018.
Councillors Shawn Nason and Markus Chambers both took her to task on the
Chambers said the number of pedestrian deaths so far this year is triple
for all of last year.
“Revenues are up, but I don’t know if it’s keeping the population any
safer,” Chambers said.
Nason asked how any of her figures was good news.
“Are our drivers that bad that we’re catching more?” Nason asked.
“Is that a measurement of police issuing more tickets or drivers not
getting the message?” Chambers asked.
Being a numbers person, Holowka answered the only way she could: “It’s good
Manitoba Public Insurance said there have been nine pedestrians killed in
vehicle collisions in Winnipeg to the end of September, compared to three
for all of 2018.
Shawna Curtin, the secretary of the Winnipeg Police Board, told the
committee that safety and enforcement were separate issues.
“I don’t think we can call ticket revenue a performance measure in terms of
safety,” Curtin said.
“It’s not good news, necessarily, when revenue goes up, but it is a good
news story that people are being sanctioned for poor driving,” Curtin said.
“It’s impossible to say if that makes us safer or not,” adding similar
public discussions at police board meetings and at city hall are having an
effect in the community.
“People are paying attention if those sanctions do have some effect.”
An administrative report to the committee examining revenue and expenses
from all departments shows the city is projecting a year-end deficit of
$6.9 million, with the WPS accounting for $1.1 million of that.
The WPS’ projected year-end deficit is attributed to the decline in photo
While the WPS Q2 data shows that revenue from traditional traffic
enforcement is up 22 per cent compared to the same time frame in 2018, the
actual dollar difference is $230,000; while the 10 per cent decline in
photo enforcement revenue is almost twice that amount, $510,000.
Nason said police and city officials should focus on school zones that have
a high incident of speed violations, bringing in traffic officers to target
the bad drivers.
“Where are the school zones that kids are being put at risk? That is
important community information that we should have readily available to
us,” Nason said.
Nason said he’s been frustrated in his efforts to get data on speeding
violations in school zones in his Transcona ward.
He said a request to the public works department for an accounting by
individual school zone for 2018 cannot be provided to him until sometime in
“Let’s look at where people aren’t paying attention and just put physical
enforcement there on occasion to change behaviours,” Nason said following
*Motorist fled, leaving man with broken arm, leg*
* Cyclist seeks driver who hit him *
A CYCLIST who was hit from behind by a vehicle in a 90 km/h zone is
searching for the motorist who sped away.
Jordan Sylvestre was disoriented and in distress after he was knocked off
his bicycle during his Tuesday morning commute.
In thinking back to the frantic moments that followed, the 34-year-old
cyclist remembers one thing for certain — “There were no brake lights,”
which showed the driver didn’t slow down after hitting Sylvestre.
At 6:12 a.m. on Tuesday, Sylvestre was biking southbound on Pipeline Road,
just south of the Perimeter Highway, when he was struck by a vehicle that
sped off toward the city.
“I was blindsided at about 90 km/h, I should be dead,” he said during a
phone interview from his home in West St. Paul on Wednesday.
He survived the hit and run, but not without being severely injured.
Sylvestre broke his leg and arm and suffered abrasions all over his body.
Now, he and his family are searching for the motorist responsible. They
only know the person was driving a silver Honda. Pieces of the car,
including its right passenger mirror, were scattered on the side of the
asphalt road after the incident.
“If anybody has seen, in their neighbourhood or in a parkade or at work, a
silver Honda that’s missing a passenger mirror, and potentially, likely
other damage to the front or side, right corner, alert police,” he said.
(Anyone can submit a tip to the Winnipeg Police Service at 204-986-6222 or
Crime Stoppers at 204-786-8477.) A local police spokesperson said the
incident took place outside of its jurisdiction, although Sylvestre said he
filed a report with Winnipeg police. WPS did not respond to a followup
request. RCMP did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Wednesday.
Sylvestre has been commuting to his engineering job in the city from the
rural municipality northwest of Winnipeg for about two years. He was
wearing a helmet and headlamp and his bike was equipped with a back light.
While he has always enjoyed the exercise, he said he might put his bike
away after the traumatic incident.
“I can only be as safe as the most unsafe driver out there, so I need to
figure out, especially now with a young (daughter), whether I want to put
myself in that position again,” he said.
All collisions are preventable as far as the executive director of Bike
Winnipeg is concerned.
“I don’t think there’s any way you wouldn’t have seen him, unless you’re
really oblivious and texting or something, which is also incredibly
dangerous,” Mark Cohoe said.
Cohoe said there’s a need for the city and province to recognize that
suburban areas require infrastructure that protects all road users,
including lower speed limits. “I don’t think I’d want to be passed at 90
km/h on that road,” he said.
maggie.macintosh(a)freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @macintoshmaggie
*Pedestrian scrambles would be street smart *
LIKE oil and water, vehicles and pedestrians don’t mix easily. Winnipeg has
the death toll to prove it.
To improve the chances that pedestrians and cyclists can get home safely,
the city recently introduced several proactive measures. Another batch of
changes is about to be devised, including the expected introduction of
pedestrian scrambles, a measure for which the city’s public works
department has high hopes.
“We think this will have an effect on removing the conflict between
pedestrians and motorists,” David Patman, manager of transportation, said
during a recent committee meeting.
In theory, pedestrian scrambles are a good concept. Signals stop all
vehicular traffic simultaneously, and pedestrians and cyclists safely cross
the intersection in every direction, including diagonally, at the same time.
The scrambles are being considered by public works as part of something
called the Road Safety Strategic Action Plan, a blueprint to make Winnipeg
roads safer. The city advertised for consultants to help compose the plan
and will award the contract on Oct. 29.
The city is also considering cameras at more intersections, new flashing
countdowns at crosswalks and protected left-turn lanes.
These would add to a strategy of big and small changes already completed
and obvious to everyone who drives regularly on Winnipeg roads.
Small changes include signage warning drivers about high-risk
intersections, more “walk” signals that count down the time before the
signal turns to “don’t walk,” speed tables that grab the attention of
drivers by raising the road surface about eight centimetres for a length of
seven metres, and a building spree of 43 new stop signs and 27 new
Larger changes include expanded bike lanes, with Wolseley and West Broadway
likely the next to get better cycling routes. Also, several years ago, 30
km/h speed limits were instituted at 230 school zones.
The traffic planners at city hall are doing many things right. The problem
is a small but hazardous number of Winnipeg drivers who are distracted,
aggressive and feel the rules of the road don’t apply to them.
Ten pedestrians have been killed in Winnipeg so far in 2019, which is more
than triple the three pedestrians killed last year. And all urban cyclists
tell horror stories of getting cut off, edged out or hit by vehicles whose
drivers scoff at the notion that bicycles have just as much right to the
road as motor vehicles.
These dangerous drivers will likely get irate when they experience how
scrambles negatively affect vehicle traffic. In scrambles, red lights for
vehicles last longer so pedestrians and cyclists in all directions have
time to get across. That means lineups of vehicles grow longer,
particularly during rush hour. In New York, some scrambles have congested
vehicular traffic to the point of gridlock.
To anticipate how some drivers will react to scrambles, look at the public
opposition when 30 km/h speed limits were instituted around schools several
years ago. The purpose was to keep children safe; who could object to that?
A small but vocal number of Winnipeg drivers, that’s who. Many publicly
expressed vexation when ticketed for speeding through the school zones,
even though slowing down would have added only about 10 seconds to their
Precedent shows some Winnipeg drivers don’t learn easily. Zipper merging is
a good example. Advertising campaigns have tried to teach Winnipeg drivers
that, when two or more lanes of traffic approach a bottleneck, drivers from
each lane are supposed to take turns entering the gap, like a zipper.
There’s lots of opportunity to practise these days on the many Winnipeg
streets where lanes suddenly end because of construction. But many
inconsiderate drivers defend their position in line by blocking others from
entering ahead of them.
When these same drivers encounter scrambles, some will get clench-jawed
angry that their routes have been slowed considerably for the convenience
of pedestrians and cyclists. It won’t do any good to tell these drivers
they should commend, not condemn, their fellow Winnipeggers who walk and
cycle to benefit the environment and their personal health.
In Winnipeg, the car culture rules. People choose retail and recreational
outings based on the availability of parking, fast-food restaurants find
great success by serving diners in their vehicles and zoning bylaws let
downtown be dominated by ugly parking lots.
It’s not wrong to enjoy our vehicles. But it is wrong for drivers of
vehicles to endanger the smart people whose transportation choices include
a bicycle or sturdy walking shoes.
The angry drivers will just have to live with it as pedestrians and
cyclists are prioritized. Scrambles are one more way Winnipeg’s traffic
scene is heading in the right direction.
*Carl DeGurse is a member of the Free Press editorial board.*
Please join Green Action Centre and Bike Winnipeg for a group viewing of
the monthly APBP webinar in the EcoCentre
This will be followed by discussion for those who wish to stay.
Wed, October 16th, 2-3pm
If We Build it, Will They Come? Estimating Demand for Biking and Walking
It is an age-old question: How do we make the case for investing in
bicycling and walking without solid evidence that the results will pay off?
This webinar will explore traditional methods, as well as emerging
practices for estimating demand and benefits of bicycling and walking.
- Summer Jawson, PE, Seattle Department of Transportation
- Farnaz Sadeghpour, Ph.D., University of Calgary