Red tape slows artistic traffic-calming concept

It’s too bad that an inexpensive, creative and community-building way to combat speeding traffic in our inner city neighbourhoods risks being tangled  in red tape.

Kitchener staff and councillors have recently been examining a scheme proposed by residents on Ahrens and Wilhelm streets to create a unique traffic-calming project to slow traffic in their Mount Hope-Breithaupt Park communities.

The project, approved at council this week, involves residents painting public art on the roadway in hopes the display will make drivers slow down to appreciate their work. The proposal came at a time when the city is overwhelmed with traffic-calming requests from dozens of streets and communities but can afford only to tackle a few projects a year.

Faced with the fact their intersection would not qualify for calming procedures for many years, residents came up with their road-painting proposal, one that has been tried in cities including Halifax and Calgary.

Now, other neighbourhoods including the Mount Hope community in my Ward 9, have expressed interest in the concept which, in the case of Mount-Hope-Breithaupt, was approved by councillors as a one-year pilot project. Which, in turn, means Kitchener is unlikely to see any other similar projects until late 2015.

The approval comes hand in hand with the predictable gridlock of legal, insurance and other problems associated with a proposal that, among other things, has to be approved by 80 per cent of nearby residents. It will also require an artist facilitator, the collection of traffic data and final approval by transportation, public art and legal officials.

I hope to expand the pilot road-painting pilot and trim some of that red tape so we can encourage other communities to try the concept.

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