‘It’s completely out of control’: Beamsville residents want action against careless driving

Residents living on John Street and Central Avenue in Beamsville have grown frustrated with speeding and careless driving on the residential roads near Senator Gibson Public School and are now demanding action.

A group of community residents has banded together to raise concerns about speeding issues and they want action from authorities to control it.

“It’s completely out of control,” said Rick Atkins, who suggested speed bumps or a three-way stop at John Street and Michael Avenue could help.

The residents recently met with Niagara this Week to discuss the issues, and were regularly interrupted by passing cars and trucks. Residents complained about the driving speeds on the 40 kilometres per hour (km/h) street. “Is that 40?” asked resident Juan Miranda of one of the passing cars. “No way.”

“We are on a residential street,” he said. “It’s a 40, (but) being treated as a highway. It’s a residential road no longer.”

Residents say roads have become more congested and speeding has increased, as drivers look to avoid the busier streets in Beamsville. “Over the last two years, we can’t believe how this street has become a racetrack, possibly for drivers trying to avoid Ontario Street and the congestion of traffic on King Street,” said Lisa Robinson, who lives on Central Avenue.

The issue came to a head recently when a crossing guard was struck by a car near the school.

Const. Barry Ravenek, with the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS), confirmed that at 3:59 p.m. on Sept. 8, officers responded to the crosswalk west of Michael Avenue. They determined a driver of a 2010 Honda was signalled to stop by the crossing guard, who then escorted pedestrians across the street.

As the guard exited the crosswalk, he was struck by the car, which was travelling around 5 km/h. The crossing guard sustained minor injuries and the driver was charged with careless driving.

The investigating officer reportedly returned to the crosswalk on more than one occasion since the collision. For their part, officers from 8 District of NRPS, covering West Niagara, are aware of the speeding and dangerous driving complaints and partnered with the traffic enforcement unit to conduct targeted enforcement, according to Ravenek.

Throughout September 2022, 128 provincial offence notices (tickets) and 26 warnings were issued in Grimsby and the surrounding area, said Ravenek.

As for the town of Lincoln, manager of corporate communications Liliana Busnello said traffic safety and speed reduction strategies are a high priority. “We continue to respond to residents’ concerns about improving road safety throughout the community,” she said.

The town’s transportation master plan included a traffic calming policy to help the town implement traffic calming and speed reduction measures, according to Busnello. “The ultimate goal of these actions is to improve the livability of neighbourhoods for all users,” she said.

Implemented traffic safety initiatives include community safety zones (CSV), pedestrian crossovers, speed humps and digital feedback signs. In 2011, John Street was designated a CSV, which increases the fines that can be handed out to vehicles who violate the Highway Traffic Act.

In 2021, a radar device was also installed on John Street near Senator Gibson school to monitor speeds. Results indicated the average speed was 26 km/h, and the 85th percentile was 34 km/h. The 85th percentile is considered within the traffic engineering industry as the prevailing speed at which most drivers feel safe and comfortable driving.

“The results from this data indicate at this time that we do not have any speeding concerns within this section of the street,” said Busnello.

But Miranda wants more action to be taken now, before someone is injured or even killed.

“I’ve got three kids, one with Down syndrome. Am I waiting for her to get run over?” he asked. “I don’t want to see any (wreaths). I don’t like candles and I don’t like wreaths.”

Chris Pickles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News