Nova Scotia

New measures coming to crash-prone stretch of Robie Street after years of complaints

Steve Mackay has been trying to get four-way stops and crosswalks installed on his crash-prone block of Robie Street since 2016. This week, he found out his work has paid off.

Local resident pushed for change with homemade 'guerilla' traffic-calming measures

Steve Mackay has witnessed dozens of crashes on his Halifax street, including this one on May 13. (Submitted by Steve Mackay)

Steve Mackay is celebrating — his years of work have paid off. 

"I feel relieved. I am overjoyed," he said. "I think our street will start looking a lot more like a residential street."

Since 2016, Mackay has been pushing for traffic-calming measures on the crash-prone block of Robie Street in Halifax where he lives. He's been documenting the crashes for years, including when cars hit trees, porches and even his neighbour's home.

He said repeated car crashes, including one causing the death of a woman last year, have made local residents scared to walk on the street.

Now, change is coming. In a tweet Tuesday night, the councillor for the area, Lindell Smith, announced two new four-way stops will be created on the stretch at the north end of Robie Street, along with crosswalks and stop lines. 

The new measures include four-way stops at the intersection of Robie Street and Stairs Street, and at the intersection of Robie Street and Columbus Street. This means new stop signs will be installed on Robie Street and painted stop bars and crosswalks will be painted in these intersections.

Stop lines will also be painted at the existing stop signs on Stanley Street, Merkel Street, Cabot Street, Sebastian Street and Wells Street.

Smith said in an email that municipal staff "are hoping" that the changes will be completed by mid-summer.

Steve Mackay has witnessed multiple accidents on his street. He said one in November made him take matters into his own hands. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

"It's going to be so good," Mackay said. "I'm sure I'll feel safer. I might be able to to walk up Robie without having to look over my shoulder or, you know, not worry about a car coming out and taking me out from a side street."

Mackay said the stretch of road he lives on has been dubbed "the launching pad" by some neighbours because vehicles go so fast. 

And he said in the past year the issue has gotten worse. 

"The crashes continue to increase in frequency to a monthly basis," Mackay said. "And so in November, after I think six or seven crashes since the woman died here, I said, 'That's enough.' And I went outside and I knocked on doors and got neighbours together."

This crash occurred April 9 at the Stanley Street and Robie Street intersection. (Submitted by Steve Mackay)

Since then, he has created a petition of more than 400 signatures that was presented to the city's transportation standing committee, and led two "guerilla" traffic calming actions.

The first involved creating an island in the intersection with green bins to slow cars down. The second saw Mackay paint his own crosswalk markings on the intersection near his home. 

They were removed by city staff shortly after.

In an interview, Coun. Lindell Smith said it's worrying that it took around five years to get the approval for the stop signs and cross walks, but "it comes down to how our process works."

"I guess the simple reason [it took so long] is it took some time to get all the studies in," he said. "It's been an ongoing issue since for me since around 2018, 2017 is when I first started hearing from residents." 

He said local residents pushing for change helped maintain the momentum.

More changes on horizon

In an email, municipal spokesperson Ryan Nearing said further measures will be implemented in the area in the future.

"Staff are also investigating the potential for physical traffic calming measures to be added to the corridor," Nearing said. "The physical measures will require some design work, so there is no definite timeline for installation."

Mackay feels the fact he has had to dedicate years to this issue shows it is not a priority for councillors. But nevertheless, he is "happily surprised" and grateful.

"You know, working so hard and being so frustrated for so many months, it kind of feels like a never-ending uphill battle," he said. "Then seeing that message from Lindell Smith on Twitter that the changes I had asked for are going to be implemented ... it's great." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicola Seguin is a TV, radio, and online journalist with CBC Nova Scotia, based in Kjipuktuk (Halifax). If you have a story idea, email her at nicola.seguin@cbc.ca or find her on twitter @nicseg95.

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