- by Kevin Taylor

During a lull at work, I stumbled across an article from the Sun Times on Facebook that says the city hired a consultant to present options for signal improvements.  I read every single comment in the thread so far and the general consensus is "go back to how things were", I know change is the enemy for a lot of people but how soon people forget just how frustrated they were at the staggered light systems.

Or how often some drivers wouldn't realize they were staggered and roared forward, watching opposing traffic rather than the lights, andnearly t-boned someone turning left.  Or in some cases, did t-bone these vehicles.

The other common comment I see (or hear) is people complaining about those complaining, saying it doesn't take that long to drive through Owen Sound compared to London or Toronto. And no, of course it does not.  In the grand scheme of things, the average commute from West to East and back again isn't terribly long. 

On the other hand, I joke how I can spend the same amount of time working my way through the "Sea of Red" downtown as I do returning from a run outside the city limits under legal speeds. It isn't an issue strictly related to 10th Street, I can go from 9th Avenue to 16th Avenue on 16th Street East
and catch almost every red light.

Going down the avenues is the same, whether it's 3rd or 2nd Avenue East - I generally hit a red light on every intersection as I make my way across.  Once again, no, the commute isn't terribly longer because of this but I do feel it does create dangerous situations.  People get frustrated and speed up to catch these lights and not all drivers are created equal, so the judgement varies.  "I can make the yellow" turns into running a red, and an unsuspecting pedestrian, cyclist or vehicle inching out is easily struck. 

The prospect of sitting at another red light also makes vehicles waiting to turn left super impatient, nearly clipping pedestrians who are legally crossing.  As a parent to two young children, these situations worry me way more than me having to sit through two red lights... as inconvenient as that might be.

I think traffic lights being dictated by volume rather than time, especially on the "less busy" corners would be the way to go.  The lights on 8th Street East/7th Avenue East is a good example of what our downtown core could implement.  It's quick and efficient and the yellow light is a short one.  When it comes to crosswalks, I think numbered countdowns are far superior to flashing hands or walk signs.

We have folks of all kinds walking our streets: young, old, able bodied and not.  Not everyone can hustle across so you can get to Tim Hortons faster.  I see way too many instances of cars pressuring pedestrian traffic, the bumper almost touching their legs - this needs to stop.

To end this, I think we are very self-focused in our vehicles.  I see a lot of people speeding up in their own lane when they see someone signalling to change lanes, so they don't get behind the lane changer. People pulling out in front of other cars is a terribly common problem - I cannot count the amount of near-misses I've experienced or seen.

You add in distractions like cell phones and it's a bad mix.  Drivers are in a rush to go nowhere fast.  Vehicles speed by you doing 70-80 in a 50 and you catch up to them at the next light so really what ground was made? 

Drivers need to be defensive, but we also need to do our part to cut down on the easily avoidable issues.  Owen Sound has some bad drivers, but we don't need to add more to that list in frustration of them.