Residents of London’s Old South neighbourhood are petitioning the Ontario city to install a four-way stop at a two-way intersection they say is dangerous.
Stay-at-home mom Ashley Culbert has been living on the corner of Duchess Avenue and Edward Street for over a year. During that time, she’s seen a number of near misses, and created an online petition after witnessing a recent collision.
“I was home and I was kind of like an unofficial first responder,” said Culbert. “There was one woman who was injured and needed medical attention, but it just kind of scared me because just the day before, I was out front watering the flowers with my kids. And if this had happened when we were standing there, it would have been really bad.”
The area is typically busy as young families and kids walk to and from school. Edward Street is also on a bus route.
The intersection is often confused for an all-way stop, Culbert said, leading pedestrians and drivers alike to miscommunicate. On a daily occurrence, she overhears the sounds of slamming brakes and honking horns.
Culbert’s petition received over 200 signatures in 24 hours, along with personal stories mirroring her own experience.
“With three young kids, I want to be able to stand in my front yard and feel safe, and that’s just not the case,” she said.
John Balch and his wife have been advocating for the intersection to become a four-way since 1998, when their then 12-year-old son was almost killed by car.
The boy was walking home from a friend’s house when he was struck by a delivery car speeding west on Duchess Avenue, throwing him 30 feet (9 metres). He was in a coma that night and left with a severe brain injury.
“It seems incredible that this safety hazard has never been corrected,” Balch said. “A good part of it is that the neighbourhood is saturated with four-way stops, but not here. Drivers truly seem puzzled by this … the city needs to get rid of the uncertainty.”
Traffic data too late to warrant change: city
To back up the petition, Culbert has been in contact with the city over the matter and is in the process of collecting statistics on the number of incidents over the past few years.
Shane Maguire, London’s division manager of traffic engineering, said current traffic data and collision data don’t support the installation of an all-way stop.
However, the city will conduct a new traffic study, as the most recent one took place in October 2020 when traffic volumes were low.
In the meantime, the city will install signage to remind motorists that the cross traffic doesn’t stop, and is reducing the speed limit in local residential areas from 50 to 40 km/h.
“Our processes are based on data rather than anecdotal reports,” said Maguire. “That’s really the only way that we can look at an intersection and compare it against other similar intersections.”
But even if the data may say that the number of actual collisions is low, the constant sound of screeching brakes and horns tells another story, said Balch.
“It’s just a combination of the speed going down Duchess and people thinking that it’s a four-way stop,” said Balch.
“If they’re just searching for numbers of accidents there, they might not get the number they’re looking for. But any resident that’s lived around there can tell you that it’s a continual accident waiting to happen.”