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City trying temporary measures to slow traffic past Departure Bay Beach

Curbs to be placed along the centre line at crosswalks
Curbs will be placed along the centre line of Departure Bay Road for the summer and part of the fall as a temporary traffic-calming measure. (City of Nanaimo images)

Drivers didn’t slow down much past Departure Bay Beach last summer, so the City of Nanaimo will try something new with traffic calming there.

The city will be installing curbs in the middle of the road at three crosswalks along the stretch of Departure Bay Road adjacent to the park.

In 2019, the city proceeded with a trial speed reduction to 40 kilometres per hour there, but according to a staff report, “the results of this work were ineffective.” Correspondence from the Departure Bay Neighbourhood Association notes that motorists’ speeds only went down by 1-3km/h. Previous speed monitoring done by the association showed that out of 580 vehicles, only four followed the precautionary speed limit of 30km/h, the average speed was 53km/h and one driver was clocked at 97km/h.

“Departure Bay is unique in Nanaimo, being a popular beachfront and recreational area transected by a busy commuter, transit and emergency response route. It is important that the road allows these competing uses to safely exist,” noted the letter from Chuck Easton sent on behalf of the association.

City staff recommended the “Calgary-style traffic-calming curb because of its ease of use, effectiveness, and adaptability” and expects it will slow down traffic in the area.

Mayor Leonard Krog said he would be interested to know if that stretch of the road has had a disproportionate number of accidents and wondered if other streets in the city might be in greater need of traffic calming. He said he drives the road every day and believes motorists there tend to always be on the lookout for children and other pedestrians.

“My general observation is, in the summer time, when it’s busy, this happens to be one of the slowest sections of road in the community,” he said.

Jamie Rose, manager of transportation, said the city is going through its procurement process and is working to get the features in as quickly as possible. The curbs will be in place until mid October, vehicle speeds will be monitored and staff will report back to council in the fall.

READ ALSO: Speed limit lowered at Departure Bay Beach

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