Longtime Newmarket resident Ian Johnston wants the town to allocate more funds toward making local streets safe for pedestrians and drivers. – Mike Barrett/Metroland

Ian Johnston feels the Town of Newmarket’s traffic mitigation study is missing the mark when it comes to really improving road safety.

The longtime resident and road safety advocate isn’t slighting the town for its efforts to make local streets safe for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, through the creation and implementation of its traffic mitigation strategy, but he feels there are a number of factors hindering its success.

“It is much a work in progress, testing various strategies, hoping to lower the impact of driver errors have on our roads and in our neighbourhoods,” he said. “These short-term solutions don’t have any lasting impact as part of an overall plan on the town’s traffic committee has come up with through their studies of the most vulnerable areas in town.”

For example, the bollards from the pilot projects over the past two years have brought attention to problematic streets, but they do not remain all year round and solar powered speed monitors are relocated every two months, he added.

“In my opinion, they are a Band-Aid solution for the overall larger traffic problems that exist on our roads,” he said. “They are just minor solutions, nothing that really deters poor driving habits, collisions and distracted driving.”

Johnston believes there is too much focus on reducing motorist speed rather than on distracted driving. That $70,000 isn’t a large enough budget to execute needed projects. And that a strategy needs to involve York Region, the school boards, York Regional Police and other policy-makers in order to work.

“It is a topic councillors are always interested in, because it is the top issue raised by residents,” the town’s development and infrastructure commissioner Peter Noehammer said.

Work on the town’s first traffic mitigation strategy began in 2009, with the intention of creating a framework that would capture policies related to cycling, parking, street safety and more. From this, a number of plans have been hatched, including the active transportation plan in 2014.

Also falling under the strategy’s umbrella are a number of road safety pilot projects, including lawn signs, digital speed boards, pavement markings in school zones and the installation of flexible bollards with the hope of reducing motorists’ speed, Noehammer explained.

“We are always striving to protect pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, so this strategy continues to be refreshed,” he said, noting that council has just reviewed an updated version of the strategy. “Council received the report and returned it to staff to see if the policy finalization could happen earlier than planned.”

Noehammer believes staff will be able to bring the completed strategy forward in the second quarter. A webpage with information is expected to be published on the town’s website in the coming weeks for public review, information will be detailed and in plain language.

Also further down the road the town plans to hold a transportation congress with a presentation and a roundtable discussion.

Source: YorkRegion.com