GWAC Traffic-Calming Information Kit

Hello Grandview Woodland Resident(s)
Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) understands residents’ concerns about increasing traffic volumes in neighbourhoods across Grandview Woodland. To help you deal with cut-through traffic and unsafe neighbourhood streets, we have compiled a resource sheet to provide information about what you can do to calm residential streets, to take them back for people and pets, not cars.

The first thing you need to do is figure out what traffic-calming is. You will find the resources from Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST) very helpful as you begin to set up your traffic-calming group:

http://best.bc.ca/
 http://best.bc.ca/reclaim-your-street/

You can get more information from the  at http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/driving-and-traffic.aspx, and for specific help or to report your traffic concerns to the City’s representative on the Grandview Woodland Traffic & Parking Advisory Committee, Cara Fisher, at www.cara.fisher@vancouver.ca

Another valuable resource is The Grandview Woodland Neighbourhood Transportation and Parking Committee, in particular the Stakeholders Advisory Group (SAG), on which a GWAC Board member sits. The City of Vancouver contact person is Cara Fisher on 604-326-4830 or cara.fisher@vancouver.ca 

Below is the committee’s most recent report site:

http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/grandview-woodland-neighbourhood-transportation-and-parking.pdf

It is advisable to check with the City about the traffic-calming process and available traffic-calming measures, for both have under gone changes over the past few years. 

The traffic-calming process requires patience, perseverance, and a lot of hard slogging, but one satisfying result of all your hard work is the community you and your neighbours will have created where there was none before you started. Community creation really is a key result of traffic-calming efforts.

So, let’s get down to traffic-calming business.

Organize
Completing these tasks early will save you a great deal of time and energy down the road:

  • Define the area you wish to calm. It must be a manageable size, a catchment area clearly delineated by recognizable landmarks and/or arterial roadways.
  • Identify Street Captains from around the catchment; these people will become the core members of the traffic-calming group, responsible for getting information to their street neighbours.
  • Set up an e-mail account for core members of your traffic-calming group, giving each member the account password for easy communication exchanges.
  • Create separate work groups to spread tasks to many hands (e.g. City Hall Group, to deal with various City departments and, of course, politicians; Direct Action Group, to devise, plan, organize, and supervise street events; Communications Group, to create flyers and information packages for distribution around the neighbourhood; etc.)  
  • Decide whether you want to tackle traffic volume or speed since the traffic-calming measures to combat these ills are different.
  • Keep the neighbourhood informed of your plans and goals with flyers, posters, social media, etc.
  • Provide neighbours with a contact name, so they can get involved, ask questions, or comment.
  • Assess and re-assess your actions and their effects. It never hurts to tweak your plans.

Ask the City

  • About conducting official traffic counts on your neighbourhood streets in order to determine the traffic volumes. Note: You may have to pressure the City to consent. Keep asking.
  • About the various traffic-calming measures that are available, about what they are designed for, about their efficacy, and about how much they cost. Note: Changes to the process may mean you and your neighbours may be required to pay for speed humps and traffic circles, for example. See the City webpage for more information: http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/traffic-calming-and-safety.aspx

ACT to Take Back Your Streets           
High and medium traffic volumes on neighbourhood streets drive residents from their front yards and sidewalks into their houses and backyards. Drivers cutting through your neighbourhood on their way to or from work apparently do not think about the people and pets who live on the streets as they sail by in their cars. You have to show them that you exist. You have to raise their consciousness and take back your streets by using them and by being seen using them, especially during the morning and evening rush hours. Here are a few examples of effective actions you might take to be more visible on your neighbourhood streets:

  • Erect signs reminding drivers that people and pets live and play on neighbourhood streets
  • Hold a coffee party on the sidewalk
  • Shut down the street for a block party (you will need City permission for this event)
  • Set up a table and sell baked goods, lemonade, smoothies, etc.
  • Invite your neighbours to a pot-luck supper on the street
  • Shut down the street for an ad hoc ball hockey game
  • Sit outside and read a book, or play cards or a board game with friends/family
  • Create gardens on the boulevards, leaving your equipment on the street as you work
  • Set up an information kiosk at a corner and hand out information re: effects of cut-through traffic
  • Hang visual distractions from boulevard trees—Coroplast signs decorated with safety slogans work well, and children love to help paint and decorate them
  • Practice “creative—but legal—parking” on either side of your streets (the object is to slow cars)
  • Hold a neighbourhood plant swap on the sidewalks
  • Hold a “Best Baked Good” contest on the streets, with plenty of chairs for testers/eaters
  • Hold a neighbourhood garage sale

These events stimulate community creation as they raise driver consciousness about the negative effects of cut-through traffic on neighbourhood streets.
Above all else, do not give up. Do not let city officials drop your case and move on to “more pressing” matters. Stay focused on your goal to increase the quality of life in your neighbourhoods by reducing the volume and speed of vehicles on your streets.