Committee approves lowering speed on Upper Gage where 11-year-old boy died
Planned speed reduction for Templemead neighbourhood also moved up to 2021
Hamilton city councillors have voted to reduce the speed limit on a section of Upper Gage Avenue where 11-year-old Jude Strickland was hit by a pick-up truck and killed in December.
Pending ratification from council, the speed on Upper Gage from Rymal Road East to Stone Church Road East will be reduced from 50 to 40 km/h. The city's public works committee also voted to designate it as a community safety zone, and to move up other speed reduction planned for 2022 within the Templemead neighbourhood so that it takes place in 2021.
"Literally thousands of families...have just surrounded this family and embraced them with love, support, and wanting to do whatever they could in their own small way to ensure [the] safety of the children for the future and Jude's tragic loss of life will never, ever be in vain, never forgotten," said Coun. Tom Jackson (Ward 6) during the public works committee meeting.
Jude died two days after he was hit crossing the street on his way home from Templemead Elementary School. Police say the 28-year-old driver of the pick-up truck didn't stop for the traffic light or the crossing guard.
A petition started by residents of the neighbourhood gathered 166 signatures in support of reducing the speed limit to 40 km/h.
Safety audit results
The city conducted a safety audit of the road and looked at five areas: speed limit reductions, school zone and community safety zone designations, automated speed enforcement, red light camera, and physical changes to the road itself. It was finished in early January.
Later that month, photo radar signs that show drivers their speed were installed, as well as pedestrian countdown timers.
The other speed reductions include making Royalvista Drive between Templemead Drive and Upper Gage Avenue a 30 km/h swatch in alignment with the school zone. The limit of Templemead Drive between Ingrid Court and Tudor Street will also be reduced to this speed.
Staff found Upper Gage from Rymal to Stone Church was above the threshold needed to make it a community safety zone. But the Highway Traffic Act regulates designated school zones.
Mike Field, manager of transportation and operations, said it only allows them on roadways that directly adjoin or abut the entrances and exits of the school.
Field said that if the city were to install automated speed enforcement on Upper Gage as part of an ongoing city pilot, it would only happen for a two week cycle. If council chooses to establish it as a permanent project in the future, he said, Upper Gage could be considered at that time, especially given this recommendation to designate it as a community safety zone.
Field said the pilot will conclude later this year, and staff will report back with recommendations.
The community safety zone doesn't allow flashing beacons, but signage will be installed at the beginning and end of the zone, as well as entry points.
A red light camera isn't being recommended for the area.
City staff are also reviewing reconstruction on Upper Gage. Field said there's an existing lane that they're considered altering or removing, and staff are also looking at other "opportunities" with respect to Vision Zero and traffic calming.
They'll put forward a capital ask in 2022 for any changes.
Jude's father, Jamie Strickland, previously told CBC News that changes to Upper Gage were "overdue."
He said there has been five collisions at the Royalvista and Upper Gage intersection in the past six years. The tragic crash involving Jude was the only one with a pedestrian, and the only instance where someone died. The others were minor, he said, with no injuries.
Upper Gage is classified by the city as a major arterial road. Coun. John-Paul Danko (Ward 8) emphasized the need for safety.
"Just because it's a commuter link, just because it's a major arterial, it doesn't mean that the people that live in those neighbourhoods don't deserve a safe access to school," he said.