Speeding on village roads has a long history and a high emotional profile in Fallowfield. Early history references in the 1870-1900 period describe the practice of speeding wagons and teams on Richmond Road. Dead Man’s Curve got its name from the multiple accidents at the sharp turn at the end of the Tierney property. This is the curve on Old Richmond Road going south towards Bells Corners, just past Stonehaven. Other reports cite speeding wagons breaking through the toll barrier late at night when the wagons returned from selling produce and visits to the Bells Corners hotels.
This report attempts to describe the issues and the proposals and actions that this community has taken to address this recurring problem. These issues and proposals include both Fallowfield Community Association activities as well as many individual residents who have raised their concern to both city officials and the police department.
Specifically, North Steeple Hill Crescent between Old Richmond Road and Fallowfield Road is the most problematic. This is because there are no sidewalks or proper shoulders, and the road is very narrow with minimally sufficient lanes for traffic. Other areas of concern include the Steeple Hill and Fallowfield Road intersection which sees significant volumes of east west traffic on Fallowfield creating access difficulties and dangers for any vehicle trying to turn on or off Fallowfield. The intersection of Steeple Hill and Old Richmond Road is also a concern due to the volume and speed of traffic on Old Richmond Road. While those specific locations are of concern the general issue of speeding on all roads in the village is an ongoing hazard.
Five Year History of Actions, Proposals and Discussions in the Village
The following list is thought to be a description of what has been discussed and done about speeding and traffic safety. No particular timeline or priority.
- A proposal to the city to place a stop sign or traffic light at the intersection of Steeple Hill and Fallowfield Road
- A proposal to place a stop sign or traffic light at Steeple Hill and Old Richmond Road.
- Speed bumps to be placed on Steeple Hill North
- Median strips of plastic to be placed on Steeple Hill North
- Widen Steeple Hill North
- Install sidewalks on Steeple Hill North
- Restrict traffic by banning all right turns from Fallowfield Road on to Steeple Hill North
- Restrict traffic by banning right hand turns from Fallowfield Road on to Steeple Hill North from 3-6 PM on Weekdays.
- Speed monitoring radars set up on Steeple Hill North
- No access from Fallowfield Road for truck traffic
- A proposal to reduce speed limits on both Fallowfield and Old Richmond Road within the village to 40 KPH
- Paint in large visible letters the 40 KPH speed limits on the pavement at entry points of the village
- Hold a public meeting with the Counsellor and city police to address the issue
- A recent proposal has announced the strategy of using a gateway signage approach to calm traffic (since implemented).
Results of These Discussions and Proposals
1: Stop signs and traffic light at Steeple Hill and Old Richmond Road and Fallowfield
The creation of both stop signs and traffic lights on city roads are governed by city regulations that require a traffic count be taken in the proposed areas and a specific volume of vehicles must be reported as travelling through or accessing the relevant intersection. Our requests to the city resulted in two separate traffic counts in the village. While the volume of through traffic on Fallowfield and Old Richmond Road met the required threshold, the number of vehicles exiting or entering Steeple Hill was very significantly below the acceptable requirement. City guidelines clearly indicate that neither a stop sign, nor a light is an option for the village. Counsellors do not have the last word on this issue.
For this decision to be reversed, one of two things needs to change. One is a huge increase of traffic on and through Steeple Hill, which is not a desirable option. Secondly, the city guidelines that set the limits and thresholds need to change. Very unlikely with the city currently trying to harmonize all the various regulations it inherited with amalgamation.
Obviously, any resident of the community is free to pursue these options with the city on their own and with neighbours’ support. The Fallowfield Community Association is not currently supporting stop signs or lights.
2: Steeple Hill traffic calming strategies.
- Suggestion to install speed bumps. This was discussed and determined to be unworkable due to difficulties that would be faced with snowplows, school buses and emergency vehicles. It was also feared that cars would wander on to private lawns to avoid these bumps since there are no sidewalks or shoulders on the road
- Suggestion to widen Steeple Hill North. Because the original road was built back in 1820 or so and has been retained in a somewhat original configuration, the city does not have the normal 11-foot easement on either side of the road. In many instances personal properties come right to the edge of the road. This would require expropriation to achieve a wider road. Not considered a viable option.
- Suggestion to place cones or vertical plastic strips on the centre line of the road forcing traffic to slow down. This was considered not to be possible since that strategy usually is used when there are sidewalks for pedestrians, this could actually increase the danger for walkers on this road.
3: Traffic restriction strategies on Steeple Hill North
- A successful action was achieved by an individual resident of Steeple Hill North when Bill Shattuck convinced the city to post signs on both Fallowfield and Old Richmond Road prohibiting through truck traffic on Steeple Hill North. He also pressured the city to rebuild the sign after it was destroyed by a snow plow the next winter.
- This strategy was extended in a proposal to ban all right turns from Fallowfield Road onto Steeple Hill North. This proposal was considered too drastic and would unfairly punish local residents by requiring them to enter the community off of Old Richmond Road.
- A modified proposal was discussed and voted on at the Annual General Meeting in 2016. This proposal was to ban right turns from Fallowfield Road from 3-6 PM from Monday to Friday. This would reduce the traffic at what is peak cut through time. This proposal was passed at that meeting and the executive presented the results of the vote to Counsellor Moffatt. Counsellor Moffatt initiated his own analysis of the issue and the proposal. He did this via face-to-face meetings with residents of Steeple Hill and the Piety Hill Way and cul-de-sacs. The result of these interviews confirmed that most residents on Steeple Hill supported the proposal and almost all residents of Piety Hill Way and feeder streets opposed the need for them to access their homes from Old Richmond Road. It was thought to be too inconvenient.
The opposition was such that Counsellor Moffatt felt he could not support the proposal due to the split it would cause in the community. This is now shelved.
4: Lower the speed limits on both Fallowfield Road and Old Richmond Road to 40KPH within the village.
- Both Fallowfield Road and Old Richmond Road are classified as arterial roads and designated truck routes. This eliminates the possibility of reducing the speed limit to 40KPH.
5: There have been a range of speed deterrent strategies proposed for the community, some have been implemented and others are being considered.
- The city painted very large 40KPH speed limit signs on the road surface at the entry point of Piety Hill Way and Steeple Hill. While this visibility is useful for visual impact there is some concern about the long-term effect for drivers who see it every day. However, it should be continued and extended to Steeple Hill South and the entry to Piety Hill Way from Steeple Hill.
- Speed indicating radar units on Steeple Hill North have been suggested. These flashing signs show the speed of approaching vehicles. It is thought that the new units can also log data on the number of vehicles and the number of speeders. It was indicated by the city that the first attempt to use such a device was thwarted by the theft of the unit. The equipment is once again in place in the village.
- A new strategy has been approved and implemented by the city for our village. This is the use of what is known as Gateway signage. This involved the placement of very visible signs at the entry point to Steeple Hill and Piety Hill Way. These signs indicate that all streets and areas within the gated signs will be subject to a 40 KPH speed limit. This strategy is hoping the visibility will slow traffic.
Several individuals have suggested that these gateway signs of 40 KPH be erected at the entry to the village instead of the proposed entry to Steeple Hill and Piety Hill. This would be totally unacceptable because the speed limit at the edge of the village is 60 KPH.
- Public meeting in village with city Counsellor and Ottawa police. This action was taken in January 2016. Counsellor Moffatt held a midterm community meeting in the village. The topic of speeding and pedestrian safety was added to his agenda. Scott explained the results of the traffic count survey undertaken at Steeple Hill and Fallowfield. The results did not meet the threshold of volume for a stop sign or light.
An interesting fact that emerged from that meeting was that the study used in-out cameras to photograph license plates entering Steeple Hill from Fallowfield and exiting on Old Richmond Road. Over 60% were drive through vehicles simply taking a short cut.
The police officer provided statistics on the number of tickets issued on village roads, which included some on Steeple Hill and many on Old Richmond Road. He also indicated that the police had received only three reports from village residents about speeding and safety issues. It was suggested that we become much more assertive in reporting the incidents that occur. There were many anecdotal incidents related at the meeting, but none were on file with the police services. Reporting can be done online at www.ottawapolice.ca or by calling 613-236-1222 ext 7300.
Many of the previous discussions and actions were focused on preventing speeding in the village. There is also an issue with enforcement. Many residents believe that there is nothing inherently wrong with 60kph on Fallowfield and Old Richmond Road, however, the reality is that it is not being followed or enforced to the point of effectiveness. The village feels that there should be some planned random use of radar traps in the village. This also includes Steeple Hill South which sees regular instances of 80kph or more. There is a lot of regular truck and other vehicle traffic on our roads. The message would be soon picked up by drivers.
Where to From Here?
- We need to work together as a community and present a community approach to the city. Counsellors will and must respond to individual residents. However, their effort and time will be dissipated if responding to multiple people on the same issue.
- We should prioritize the possible solutions and focus on those that have a chance of happening. Tilting at windmills will lead to frustration and apathy.
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