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Sign warns drivers to stop illegal shortcut in south Edmonton

Watch above: Drivers in south Edmonton are heading off the road and into the ditch to avoid a lineup. Quinn Ohler explains the problem that’s posing.

EDMONTON – The city has responded to complaints that drivers are cutting through a south Edmonton business parking lot to avoid traffic tie-ups.

A new sign has been put up along the Calgary Trail exit onto Ellerslie Road, near Ellerslie Gift and Garden. It urges motorists to stay on the road, as the parking lot is private property.

The sign comes after several customers were nearly hit by drivers cutting through the parking lot in order to get onto Ellerslie Road faster.

“People are exiting and they’re gum booting it,” Cinda Thorne, general manager of Ellerslie Gift and Garden, said Tuesday. “They’re going very fast.”

Thorne estimates the business sees up to 50 vehicles a day use its lawn and gravel parking lot as a shortcut onto Ellerslie Road off Calgary Trail southbound.

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“I would imagine that the reason we’ve got people doing this is because the traffic flow is so heavy right now,” said Thorne. “It’s because people are backed up so heavily onto Highway 2 and the off-ramp.”

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She said the cutting across happens most between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. The driving behaviour has taken place “periodically” over the years, according to Thorne, but this year, it’s been significantly worse.

“We had a customer with a young baby that was coming out into the parking lot and almost got hit because, of course, she wasn’t expecting a vehicle to be coming out off the grass onto the parking lot.”

“Our customers, our staff… are entering the parking lot not expecting that they’re going to meet head-on, fast-moving traffic, so it’s creating some safety issues,” explained Thorne.

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As of Tuesday, both the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Police Service said they were unaware of the issue.

Ellerslie Gift and Garden has taken matters into its own hands: putting up barriers along Calgary Trail and palettes along the parking lot to direct vehicles away from where people might be standing or walking.

“I realized we’ve got to do something here,” explained Thorne.

“We can’t continue with this because our staff have almost got hit, a customer now… it’s too close for comfort.

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“So now we have to try to set up some sort of barricade or something.”

She sympathizes with drivers stuck in rush hour traffic, but stresses people’s safety is far more important than cutting a few minutes off your commute.

“I understand that people are trying to beat the lights, they’re getting frustrated and stuff, but when it becomes a matter of safety, that’s not good guys, that’s just not smart.”

Thorne believes the situation has actually worsened in the last four weeks or so.

“I think people – to be honest – have to be a little bit patient. We are a city, and we are growing, and we’re going to have rush hour traffic. We’re not going to get away from it, and as we get bigger… it’s going to be a fact of life here.

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“That doesn’t justify being reckless and endangering others. It just doesn’t.”

*Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Tuesday, September 30, 2014. It was updated at 6:29 MT Friday.