Campbell River city council has approved ‘traffic calming’ measures for Nodales Drive, a street residents say is unsafe because of high vehicle volumes and speeds.
Complaints about traffic safety on Nodales Drive, a residential street in south Campbell River, date back to 2017. The city has since investigated traffic volume and speed there four times between 2017 and 2019.
Up to 932 vehicles were recorded driving the street per day, approaching the maximum seen across Campbell River neighbourhoods. While the average speed of vehicles measured below 50 kilometres per hour, the street’s posted limit, the fastest 15 per cent of cars reached 47 km/h.
However, efforts to implement traffic calming — a term including an array of physical measures designed to alter driver speed and behaviour — either were not pursued or paused due to opposition by some residents.
That changed June 28, when city council voted in favour of installing two speed humps at either end of Nodales Drive — near both South Alder Street and Erickson Road — and to reduce its speed limit to 40 km/h.
Speed humps — wide, raised structures that notify drivers of potential conflict and encourage them to slow down — are the simplest and most cost-effective type of traffic calming, explained Drew Hadfield, the city’s operations director, during the meeting.
“Because your vehicle rides over it fairly smoothly, as long as you’re not going at an excessive speed, it is a fairly pleasant ride over it, but you still have that awareness that there is an issue ahead,” said Hadfield.
Speed humps are less ‘aggressive’ than speed bumps, which are narrower and taller — and more likely to damage a vehicle. Speed humps also better allow for snow plowing in winter and street sweeping in summer.
Nodales Drive may be used as a shortcut between South Alder Street and Erickson Road, said Coun. Claire Moglove, while Coun. Ron Kerr suggested drivers may select the route because of convoluted street design in the area.
“Traffic’s like water — it’s always going to take the shortest route,” said Kerr.
But Hadfield said there is no definitive reason why some residential roads, such as Nodales Drive, are preferred over arterial roads by some drivers.
“We are all creatures of habit, so we find what suits us best for how we travel and how we get from Point A to Point B,” he said.
To assess the effectiveness of the traffic calming, the city will first count traffic on the street for four to eight weeks and then will measure speed with radar for about a week.
Another street in Campbell River that had its speed limit decreased, South Murphy Street, saw a resulting drop in average vehicle speed, but vehicles are still travelling above the posted speed limit, said Hadfield. The challenge of a reduced speed limit is having it enforced by RCMP.
“They don’t have a traffic division that’s able to sit in this neighbourhood and perform speed checks on a regular basis, unless there’s an issue in that area,” he said.
However, city staff will discuss with council more widespread reductions residential speed limits — as other communities have done — in upcoming meetings, said Hadfield, in an interview.
“It has pluses and minuses to it,” he said.