I always laugh when I hear about people in suburbs complaining about traffic. It seems everyone wants giant highways heading into downtown, but they don’t want anyone but them using their streets.
In Kirkland, there’s a street called Henri-Daoust St., that acts as a shortcut between Antoine-Faucon St. and Brunswick Blvd., a bit west of St. Charles Blvd. It’s a simple two-lane street that serves as a small artery for the area, and is used by the STM’s 201 and 261 buses. But it was also used by a lot of people in western Pierrefonds to get around traffic on St. Charles.
Because western Pierrefonds is an area that is continuing to expand with new developments, the problem is only getting worse.
So residents on that street demanded traffic-calming measures, preventing cars from using it as a shortcut, at least during rush hour.
Complicating matters is that one end of the street is in Pierrefonds, a borough of the city of Montreal, while most of it is in Kirkland, an independent city. Pierrefonds had no interest in preventing its residents from using the street, and Kirkland could not legally block people.
Finally Kirkland decided to prohibit cars from turning left from Henri-Daoust onto Brunswick during the morning rush hour (and the reverse during the afternoon rush). Once drivers were aware of this restriction, they would stop using the street.
And, as it turns out, that’s exactly what happened. More than 1,000 drivers stopped using the street as a shortcut, according to the city.
But residents still weren’t happy, and they went door-to-door trying to convince people to push the city for more action.
The city reacted alright, by telling residents they were removing the signs prohibiting left turns, effective Dec. 15. Residents say it’s “revenge”. The administration is being called “bullies”.
I don’t know whether this move is badass, or just being a total dick. It certainly seems a bit of a juvenile way to get one’s point across, if that’s the goal.
But the pamphlet being passed around by residents (PDF) clearly states that they don’t like the no-left-turns sign, that it wasn’t their idea but was only reluctantly accepted.
The truth is there is no way to make everyone happy. There are things to be done to calm traffic to make neighbourhoods more livable, but people who live in the suburbs have to come to realize that their way of life isn’t sustainable. Other people also want to live in the suburbs, and they will want to use your street.
And not every street can be a cul-de-sac.