05 July 2013 Ideas Life

Taming traffic mayhem in my backyard

I love living in Central Frederick — it has a wealth of century homes on comfortable tree-lined streets, a beautiful school, neighbourhood parks, and a corner store. This is one of Kitchener’s oldest neighbourhoods and, like many areas of K-W, the street grid can get a little wonky.

In the above satellite view, you can see Lancaster coming down from the north and meeting up with Krug Street. Mere metres from that intersection, there is a set of traffic lights where Cedar Street crosses Weber. These two intersections are too far away from each other to function together, an unfortunate confluence of history and geometry that wreaks havoc at rush hour.

Lancaster is a pretty significant north-south route that connects Kitchener to Waterloo and the Conestoga Parkway. Though by the time it approaches Krug, Lancaster has become a narrow two-lane street, it still carries lots of rush-hour traffic. Add that to the volume of vehicles passing through the Cedar/Weber intersection, and this area gets real messy around 5:00 PM on a weekday. Take a look:

(Did you notice the blue van at 0:41? At 1:07, it gets fed up with waiting, and escapes up Lancaster instead.)

As a pedestrian, I get frustrated with the Lancaster/Krug intersection a lot. I live on the East side of Lancaster Street, a few blocks up from here, and it’s well nigh impossible to get to that side of the street without dodging the traffic coming off Weber. Besides my own comfort, this neighbourhood has a lot of young families — there really should be a better pedestrian crossing here. Suddaby School is close by. In the mornings, there is a veritable parade of children that have to traverse this treacherous intersection, one way or another.

I decided to sketch out a possible solution to this mess — a pedestrian island that doubles as a traffic calming device:

1. Looking south from Lancaster Street East. Vehicles must yield to pedestrians and Krug St. traffic. The island also prevents left turns onto Krug St.

2. Looking west from Krug Street. With the island in place, Krug gets the right of way and has a full range of turning movements.

3. Looking from Weber Street toward Krug/Lancaster. No left turn onto Lancaster; the only option is to continue along Krug St.

Drivers coming from the Weber/Cedar intersection will not be able to turn left onto Lancaster; but perhaps that’s a good thing. After all, this is a school zone, and most vehicles that use this section of Lancaster are looking for a shortcut to avoid Weber St.

As a general rule, I don’t like restricting turning movements, but this street grid is just too messed up to allow the current free-for-all at Krug/Lancaster to continue.

Sam Nabi

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