Polka-dot pavement and white poles at two intersections in Calgary’s Bridgeland neighbourhood are attracting some attention.
It’s not just another public art installation — residents pushed for the colourful pilot program to curb a problem with speeders along the popular 1 Avenue stretch.
“What it did is shorten up that crossing distance for people trying to cross the street from curb to curb and put them in the lane of traffic for a shorter distance,” Ali McMillan with the Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association said.
“People used to be rushing and hurrying across. Now you can see people take the time to cross slowly and come and enjoy time in our plaza.”
The city said early findings show the poles — also known as traffic delineators — along with narrowed lanes, new crosswalk paint and a bumped out sidewalk are forcing vehicles to slow down by as much as seven kilometres an hour.
Officials have been monitoring the area using video-based conflict analysis.
While the polka dots don’t serve a scientific purpose, the group that painted them hopes they keep drivers’ eyes on the road.
It’s a method University of Calgary civic engineering professor Lina Kattan says is quite popular in Europe.
“From a cost perspective, I think it’s very efficient,” Kattan said. “I think it would work in other neighbourhoods in Calgary.”
But despite early success, the city said the traffic-calming measure will eventually be removed.
“It will be here for some time, but they’re maybe not as sustainable in terms of the ongoing maintenance costs,” City of Calgary traffic safety leader Tony Churchill explained.
“With permanent measures, we know we can put them out there and they’ll be good on their own for many many years. These require some more care.”
The city is planning to test similar traffic calming measures at two undetermined schools in the fall before wrapping up the pilot project.
“It could be something we’ll consider adding to our toolbox for community traffic services,” Churchill added.
Still, the community association says this is a key part of a permanent solution.
“When the main street actually gets built out — which is planned for two years from now — we’ll actually have a design to inform those permanent changes,” McMillan said.