Riverside Drive residents concerned redesign project will create havoc
Some residents on Riverside Drive in Swansea say they are concerned the street’s redesign project will encourage more speeding and reckless driving.
Sydney Reimer, who lives on the street and serves on the Swansea Historical Society board, told The Bloor West Villager she has seen drivers go as fast as 65 km/h, when the posted speed limit is 40 km/h.
“It’s a cut-route, so when people are trying to jump the queue to get onto the Gardiner, the way to do that is to race down on our street, so what we get is not just any kind of speeding,” she said. “But, we get people who are determined to get down as fast as possible to get as far ahead from the queue as possible, and therefore we experienced a lot of road rage and lots of dangerous situations.”
This spring, the City of Toronto is expected to start construction to redesign the 1.6-kilometre road, which is bound by Bloor Street West, South Kingsway and The Queensway, by straightening and widening it in certain parts, resurfacing it and installing sidewalks and curbs, Reimer said.
Parkdale-High Park Coun. Sarah Doucette told The Villager the street’s speed limit is being reduced to 30 km/h after her motion passed at Etobicoke York Community Council Jan. 17.
“The street is actually being made narrower. There are going to be several pinch points running from Bloor to the South Kingsway, and these pinch points will be six metres in width and we cannot go any narrower due to emergency vehicles,” she said. “At these pinch points, we are changing the surface of the road to make people aware of what speed they are going.”
However, Reimer said the proposed design isn’t going to fix the problem.
“If you want a road to be 30 km/h, you don’t design it for 70 km/h and put barriers around it like speed bumps and pinch points because they don’t work,” she said. “The wider the road looks, the faster people will go.”
Reimer’s neighbour, Michael Nitti, told The Villager he is worried every time his children walk along the street.
“They walk to and from school every day and I got my heart in my mouth until I get the phone call that they made it home safely every day,” he said.
Doucette added the proposed changes will make it safer for pedestrians to cross the road because it gives them, “a narrower area to cross.”
“We want to put more visual things along the side of the road which makes it seem slower, and then therefore people will drive slower,” she said. “We’re trying to make the street safer.”
However, Reimer said the design will hurt the historical feel of the area.
“This was a major route used for many First Nations groups … it eventually became a route for the French, and then the British,” she said. “The design is urbanizing an 8,000-year-old trail, which is something of historical value.”