Calgary polka-dot pilot project aimed at slowing down drivers

Click to play video: 'Calgary tests out ‘traffic-calming’ polka dots'
Calgary tests out ‘traffic-calming’ polka dots
WATCH BELOW: Brightly coloured polka dots have been added to some intersections in the northeast community of Bridgeland. As Tracy Nagai reports, community members hope the vivid artwork will get drivers to slow down – Aug 20, 2018

A northeast Calgary community is colouring a little outside the lines in order to curb speeders.

Over the weekend, brightly painted polka dots appeared around some intersections along 1 Avenue in Bridgeland.

“Lots of this work has been done in New York, London lots of cities in the U.S.,” Ali McMillan with the Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association said. “The polka dots are a thing because they are bold and easy to put on the road.”

McMillan said community members have been struggling for years to find effective ways to get drivers to slow down and that many people use  Bridgeland as a cut-through in order to avoid traffic congestion along Memorial Drive.

“Before you used to stick your head out into the traffic lane and boot it across so that you didn’t get hit by a car,” she said. “The polka dots add visual interest so that drivers going by are like, ‘What’s going on?’ and that causes them to pay more attention to the road.”

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While other cities may use designs in intersections to keep drivers on their toes, it’s a first for Calgary.

“This is a one-off for now,” said Tony Churchill, the leader of traffic safety operations with the City of Calgary. “We’re doing a very detailed evaluation using video-based analysis to see what the changes in conflict and other user behaviours are.”

Along with painted polka dots, traffic delineators have also been added to help broaden out the sidewalk.


Brightly coloured polka dots line an intersection in Bridgeland. Loren Andreae / Global News

“As a pedestrian, you do find that you’re cutting the corners because they are so far apart, so I think that this will definitely help,” Bridgeland resident Alena Jenkins said.

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McMillan said she’s also received overwhelming support from people on social media.

“[There has been] so much positive feedback, basically people saying, ‘I don’t feel like I have to take my life in my hands to go get my cup of coffee,'”she said.

Listen below: Ali McMillan joins Danielle Smith to discuss the traffic-calming polka dots in Bridgeland.

But others aren’t so sure the traffic-calming measures will do what they’re supposed to.

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“With the poles, cyclists may be running into those,” said Laurie Andrews, who is visiting Calgary. “There’s going to be a car and he’s going to sideswipe the poles — those are going to be coming down.”

Both community members and city officials will be watching the intersections over the next year to see if the pilot project should be scrapped or if improvements can be made.

“We know that these types of measures in general have been proven to result in fewer collisions and when they do happen, [the] collisions are of a lower severity,” Churchill said.

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