Sunday, October 17, 2010

What do you mean, this isn't what you ordered?

A lot of little "traffic calming" circles have appeared in my area of the city lately. They don't panic me - I've spent time driving in Europe, where five-lane roundabouts that require traffic lights are quickly becoming the norm. But I've heard distressing stories about people that have almost been in collisions, and then roll down their windows to frantically scream "Where do I go? I'm sorry, just tell me what I'm supposed to do with this thing!"

They always say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure - meaning, of course, that pre-planning is always cheaper, in the short and the long run. Yet the city's spending of economic stimulus money has gone in the opposite direction. Widespread public outrage and, in some cases, proof of the absolute uselessness of the changes, has prompted lots of what's been done to be undone. And in the case of Omands' Creek, a lot of what had been planned for, and budgeted for, never took place because it wasn't the right thing for the neighbourhood, and the neighbourhood found out just in time.

What really worries me here, is that the residents of my neighbourhood didn't order traffic calming circles, and weren't told. Not many people know what to do with these things, and this will lead to collisions and injuries. Couldn't some of the stimulus money have gone into informing residents that the circles would arrive, and telling them how to behave when driving through one?

Of course not. That would just be a waste of money, right?


  1. I don't know how to use a traffic circle - I was never taught, either in driver's ed, or the lessons I took this summer. I should probably look it up before I head to that area of the city.

    I was out with a friend on Friday, and she doesn't like the new traffic circle, not because she doesn't know how to use it, but because it is so narrow that she feels it is a hazard to use. She believes a four-way stop would be better, because she doesn't know how it will be plowed in the winter.

    Do you feel the traffic circle is too narrow to be used/plowed safely? She brought up an interesting point that I hadn't heard before.

  2. I have a feeling that someone in Winnipeg's woeful city planning department went to Europe, saw a traffic circle working well, and said, "Hey, why don't we throw a few around randomly! We'll say it's a `traffic calming device' and part of the Active Transportation Network!"

    The problem is that traffic circles work best at high volume multilane intersections; they keep traffic moving instead of having it grind to a halt as each car approaches a 4-way stop, for example, and prevent confusion over whose turn it is to go if there are multiple lanes per direction. The new traffic circles in Winnipeg were plopped down in residential neighbourhoods where traffic wasn't that high to begin with, and where there's only one lane in each direction. This is just further evidence to support my theory that Winnipeg's city planning department is staffed by a bunch of poo-flinging monkeys!