Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lyon Street, Part II: A Golden Triangle of Hope

As discussed yesterday, a brief trip on Lyon Street leaves one in disgust.

Councillor Holmes has expressed reservations at the thought of resurfacing Lyon, as she feels it might result in the loss of the speed humps along Lyon street.

But something must be done. Is there any hope for Centretown?

Taming the Lyon's Roar

The speed humps on Lyon are definitely a force of good. With the street ending after Catherine, it is a one-way, multi-lane freeway onramp that stretches all the way back to Wellington. Most of the drivers using it are thinking about getting from their downtown jobs to their suburban homes--and not of the community they are motoring through.

If you've ever tried to cross Lyon at one of the many small streets where Lyon doesn't have any traffic controls, you'll agree that the speed humps are a boon.

On multiple occasions, people attempting to cross Lyon on MacLaren collided with these suburban Keener-Careeners coming own Lyon. The result was terrifying for those in the house on the south-west corner of the intersection.

The problem is that Centretown's quaint old buildings are so close to the street (or, Lyon was stretched so unnaturally wide) that you simply can't see far enough up Lyon to know if you have enough time to cross until you've entered the intersection--and by that point, it's all or nothing. The speed humps, which force vehicles to slow down, mean that if the way is clear as far as the next hump up, you can probably cross in one piece. (Until you get to Kent, where you're on your own again.)

The Hitch with Humps

So what does this history lesson on the big humps have to do with eliminating the little bumps?

Well, Councillor Holmes and the community had to fight hard to get those speed humps installed, and they don't want that effort to go down the tubes.

But speed humps are not built like the rest of the street. Whether the street was just recently built, or whether it's ten years old, speed humps are always installed afterwards: A key is cut out of the top layer of the flat asphalt, (specifically, "4 meters in length and 80 millimeters in height with a sinusoidal cross-section"), then paved over. A few signs are put up, and triangles are painted with white retroreflective paint as an indicator to drivers.

If you live on Florence, the neighbours might then paint these triangles in pastel colours to make them more interesting:

The upshot is that it doesn't have to be designed into the road, and thus you don't have to wait for the next major reconstruction to install new ones. But the painful downside is that the additional cost of installing them is the same, whether the road was last resurfaced ten years ago or ten days ago. (IIRC, the cost is about ten grand per hump).

A Golden Solution

Recently in my daily travels, I saw that Gilmour was being resurfaced East of Elgin in the Golden Triangle.

I didn't realize that Gilmour was being resurfaced when I took this photo of a lunchtime crowd, but believe me when I say that this stretch of Gilmour certainly belonged to the Axis of Evil Roads (along with MacLaren west of Bank, and--of course--Lyon):

This shot at the start of the resurfacing shows the old asphalt sidewalk, which was in decent shape in comparison to the road:

To my utmost surprise, the speed humps were left intact during the reconstruction! This meant that Lyon could also be repaved without threatening our beloved traffic-calming measure!

Within about a week, the street was re-paved, and the delivery trucks could once again park illegally to drop off their parcels:

The speed humps remained intact, if perhaps a bit shorter than before:

The raised intersection at Cartier did not survive as completely as one might have hoped. Black tracks aside, it seems to have a few more bumps than originally intended, and none in quite the right spot. The decorative sidewalks at the intersection also provide a stark contrast to the new curb and sidewalk recently laid down, which appears to be a bit wider:

As clean and crisp as the new sidewalk looks, I'm sure that in no time it will be looking as dull and broken up as its predecessor. Why are we paving the sidewalk with asphalt again?

Never mind, I'm sure it was to save money. I hope this brings us one step closer to fixing Lyon!

(Note: with Gilmour out of Centretown's Axis of Evil Roads, I am nominating Bank Street between Gladstone and Gilmour to take its place.)

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