Crashes at problematic Kitchener roundabout drop
CTV Southwestern Ontario
Published Monday, December 19, 2011 6:56PM EST
Waterloo Region officials say the number of collisions at the Homer Watson Boulevard and Block Line Road roundabout has dropped in the last four months.
The roundabout has been heavily criticized, especially following a collision involving a Grand River Transit bus and a pedestrian that left 16-year-old student Cassi Lam seriously injured.
The driver in that case has been charged, but questions remain about the use of roundabouts in the region, and how safe they are for both drivers and pedestrians.
According to the region, from Aug. 14 to Sept. 13 there were 15 collisions at the roundabout. The same number of crashes was recorded in the next month-long period from Sept. 14, to Oct. 13.
However, from Oct. 14 to Nov. 13 there were only five collisions at the roundabout, and from Nov. 14 to the last known collision on Dec. 2 there were four crashes.
In late October, the region approved and implemented a number of changes at the roundabout that may have had an impact.
They included lowering the speed limit on Homer Watson Boulevard from 70 kilometres per hour to 50 kilometres per hour in the vicinity of the roundabout, changing signs to read ‘Stop for pedestrians' instead of ‘Yield to pedestrians' and changes to the lanes.
In the five months since the roundabout opened, there has in fact only been one pedestrian collision, though it was a serious one.
However, some pedestrians are still uneasy.
Student Caitlyn McKenna says "I think the problem is they put the walkways too close to the roundabout. Usually they are further back."
Fadi Koshaba is also a student and says "People are still in a rush, this place is still busy. When someone gets mad they just keep on driving. They just ignore anything in their way."
Students say the biggest help has actually come from the crossing guards.
However, that is a temporary measure, and regional councillors will decide whether to keep them at a meeting to review the roundabout in late January.
Officials continue to watch the intersection and a closed-circuit camera has been installed to monitor traffic patterns.
Additional changes are also expected after further assessment of the safety and traffic issues and the region hopes the positive trend will continue.
An important note, when the intersection was controlled by traffic signals, there were 17 recorded crashes for the entire year before the roundabout was installed.