Township council pushing for Community Safety Zone on stretch of Simcoe Street in Beaverton

After having its request to lower the speed limit denied, township council is now asking Durham Region to implement a Community Safety Zone along a significant stretch of Simcoe Street in Beaverton.

Back in February, council passed a motion calling for the posted speed limit be dropped to 40-km/h from Holy Family Catholic School through the downtown core to Mara Road.

A response letter – penned by Steven Kemp, the Region’s manager of traffic engineering and operations – noted that the Region investigated the area for traffic volumes. collision history, signage and conducted radar speed studies before opting against the request.

“This (a Community Safety Zone) is another way to stop people from speeding,” said Ward 2 Councillor Claire Doble in bringing forward a motion to formally make the request.

She noted that she routinely hears complaints from constituents regarding traffic safety issues.

“I don’t think I’m the only councillor to hear these concerns on a regular basis.”

The motion was approved unanimously.

“Enforcement is the key,” said Ward 3 Councillor Walter Schummer.

He continued by saying the Region was trying to implement a “cookie-cutter” policy to all of its roads.

“Regional roads in Brock are a lot different than regional roads in the south end…there needs to be some flexibility,” Coun. Schummer said.

“They should visit Beaverton, Cannington and Sunderland…it’s a lot different than a big city,” added Ward 5 Councillor Lynn Campbell.

According to the letter, approximately 6,000 vehicles travel along Regional Road 15 each day.

“A search of the Durham Regional Police Services’ records indicates there have been 4 collisions through the subject corridor (from Holy Catholic Family School to Mara Road) over the past three years. This represents an above average safety performance record and is characteristic of other similar road sections throughout the Region,” the letter reads.

“A review of the signs posted through that stretch noted that all signs are posted with acceptable spacing and in good order, except for the ‘School Area’ sign on the westbound approach, which will be moved closer to the school in accordance with the Ontario Traffic Manual.”

A radar study was conducted on Feb. 19, which found an average vehicle speed of 60-km/h, which has prompted the Region to request increased police enforcement.

“(The) DRPS have been notified and requested to provide selective enforcement along that stretch…There is a fundamental principle in traffic engineering practice. which emphasizes that if drivers do not perceive particular speed limits as being appropriate, the limits will be disregarded and ineffective,” the letter reads.

“Under existing conditions, it would be difficult – if not impossible – to achieve compliance with a 40-km/h speed limit without an extraordinary level of police enforcement. With limited resources, it is unrealistic to expect police to provide the level of enforcement to accommodate for an artificially lowered speed limit that will not be adhered to by most reasonable drivers.”

While the speed limit will not be lowered at this time, the Region will be keeping on eye on things.

“However, the Region will add the site to our rotational radar feedback speed sign program. Based on current available resources, a radar feedback sign will likely be warranted near the school by the fall of next year,” the letter reads.

“The site will continue to be monitored for operating speeds and dragon’s teeth pavement markings will be installed near the speed limit signs if no improvement in operating speeds are observed entering the town. These markings serve as an additional visual cue to drivers that they are entering an urbanized community and have been shown to improve motorist behaviour.”

The letter also encourages the Township to work with the DRPS to re-establish a Road Watch program in the municipality.

“Road Watch provides residents an opportunity to report dangerous and aggressive driving throughout their communities. There are currently road watch programs active in Oshawa, Whitby, Clarington, Scugog, Ajax, Pickering and Uxbridge,” it reads.

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