Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Monday, September 20, 2010
Winnipeg Transportation and Driving Part 1
Traffic circle in River Heights.
It can be a frustrating experience driving in Winnipeg. Many of the problems can be attributed to lack of planning but just as many can be blamed on the lack of courtesy among Winnipeg drivers.
The bike paths being created on Winnipeg streets have been causing chaos. The city blew its chances years ago to acquire a right of way bike path that could have run from St. James to Taylor Avenue over the Assiniboine River. The old CN line called the Oak Point Subdivision should have been grabbed for future city use after CN abandoned it. Sadly, the idea of anything aside from green space for the line torpedoed any acquisition. Now, residents are reaping the seeds of that dissent as condos are squeezed into the space that they thought would remain green forever. No one seemed to consider that a private owner such as CN might want to actually develop the property rather than leaving it as private parkland for people of the neighborhoods to park their extra cars or to dig a garden. This picture shows the line as it passes through St. James.
Here is the picture of it running through River Heights.
The old line through St. James is now occupied by retailers such as Future Shop and Best Buy who took the opportunity to have bigger setbacks from St. James Street. Who can blame them but what a waste to the city who could have created actual walking and bike paths travelling north/south.
Back in the 1970s or 1980s, there was a proposal for a bike bath along the Burlington Northern Line that also runs through River Heights. The idea was squashed by opposition from an activist who generally fought for social causes. I always remembered that. If I can find the archived news story about that incident, I will include it.
Today we are seeing all sorts of issues in regards to the bike path down Assiniboine Avenue. It has created a nightmare for commuters and people living in the area. One wonders why they didn't utilize the existing east-west corridor in the area.
Here, I will show it to you:
There it is: Between the trees on Broadway.
Here is what originally went down the center of Broadway:
Is it not too late to look at that choice on Broadway?
In any event, those represent some of the choices the city could have made on bike paths that might have made sense.
The traffic circles in River Heights along Grosvenor, including Lanark, Borebank, Waterloo and Waverley are causing some people in the area consternation. The street will also include a bike path and eliminates all parking west of Cambridge Street. There is a picture of the circle on the top of the page.
Many of the people living in the area have a legitimate beef that the discussion about the changes were rushed through to ensure that federal dollars were spent before the deadline.
The first time bump outs of curbs were attempted in 2001 along Lyndale Drive, the residents there rebelled and they were removed a year later. The people of St. Boniface gave councillor Dan Vandal an earful about them.
I am not opposed to roundabouts or traffic circles. The one along Waterfront Drive works well enough. A few more of them are appearing in the Waverley West area. However, I can say from experience that some people still aggressively enter the traffic circle, tailgate and try to maintain high speeds.
I was a longtime resident of Kingsway and at the open house on the subject of the active transportation corridor, planners admitted they wanted to turn Kingsway into more of a thoroughfare. Certainly the people of that street are not going to be happy with speeders running past two schools at high rates of speed to avoid Grosvenor.
River Heights is already a speedway as people try to avoid Kenaston, Corydon and Academy Road during rush hours.
The issue with Grosvenor will be about whether it will be too narrow for buses, cyclists and cars to co-exist with traffic circles. The side effects of the change will also have to be examined. Those side effects would include: changes to traffic patterns elsewhere, the loss of parking on Grosvenor and the issue of parents dropping kids off at River Heights Junior High.
It would be fair to say though that not all problems in Winnipeg are the result of poor city planning. Winnipeg has some very aggressive drivers and there is a distinct lack of courtesy among people. Tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, speeding along lanes in attempt to cut in to traffic are all examples of treating commuting into some sort of bloodsport measured by if you win or lose.
Here is an example of one driver's attempt to end the bloodsport and break-up traffic jams.
I will talk more on the lack of courtesy in a future post but I will leave readers with this thought: If you drive at a regular speed, leave space between your car and the one ahead of you, stay in one lane for the most part, use your turn signals and pay attention, it is very likely you can help ensure fewer stoppages along your commute.