Ottawa

Ignoring stop lights, signs focus of community organization campaign

A community organization and school council in central Ottawa are calling for drivers to stop ignoring stop lights and signs over safety concerns, both in their area and across the city.

Neighbourhood association, school council raise local issues but want city-wide awareness

Fisher Park/Summit Alternative Public School Grade 8 students Luka Cule (left) and Jack Stewart hold signs asking drivers to respect stop lights and signs during an event organized by the Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Association on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

A community organization and parent council in central Ottawa are calling for drivers to stop ignoring stop lights and signs over safety concerns, both in their area and across the city.

Members of the Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Association and Fisher Park school council were out on street corners in their area Friday morning with city-supplied bilingual signs saying "Please Stop For Us" and "S.V.P. Arrêtez Pour Nous."

At the corner of Holland Avenue and Sherwood Drive, Grade 8 students Luka Cule and Jack Stewart from nearby Fisher Park/Summit Alternative Public School said drivers on Holland regularly blow through stop signals.

"I walk to go to lunch, there's a shawarma place down there… and every time we cross there's always one car that just whizzes past, breaks the red lights and almost hits us. It's sometimes a little bit scary," Stewart said.

"You're going and [you] see two drivers on the road going past a red light when there are people about to walk across the street, a car just juts in front of you like that and kind of surprises you," said Cule.

Dianne Paul, the treasurer for the school council, said the school's location on a busy road between Carling Avenue and the government offices at Tunney's Pasture adds to the potential hazard.

"The location is difficult because Holland Avenue it's on a hill and it approaches the underpass for the Queensway, anybody who's not from the neighbourhood wouldn't know there's a school behind there," she said.

"There's two sets of lights and they're usually trying to run and get through that light."

Paul said a student from their school was struck by a vehicle a few weeks ago and that wasn't the first time that it has happened.

Local event but broader message

The signs are part of the city's Safer Roads Ottawa campaign, which launched in 2012 with the goal of reducing serious collisions in the city. The city has distributed nearly 5,000 "Slow Down for Us" and "Stop for Us" signs.

Even though they're most familiar with the issues around the hospital, both associations said that not rushing through stop signs is important for safety across the city.

Hazel Herrington is on the traffic committee of the Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Association. (CBC)

"We want to get the collisions down, make sure people are safe, pedestrian are safe, cyclists are safe," said Hazel Herrington, who's on the neighbourhood association's traffic committee.

"Stop when you're supposed to. [When] there's a stop sign, stop."

"I want [drivers] to really start paying attention to the speed limits. I would hate for them to start putting speed bumps everywhere because I find them a little bit dangerous and annoying," Paul said.

"I just want them to start paying attention because we've had too many close calls and it's usually when something really bad happens then they're willing to take action. Be a bit proactive." 

Paul said they're thinking about doing another stop sign awareness blitz later this month, maybe in the afternoon.

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