The Fountain Pen, Guelph's On-Line News

Road Diets and Other Atrocities

Web posted on April 20, 2016

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

This week's rant is about the so called road diets (I prefer the term road destruction) and other atrocities. In their infinite wisdom our Powers That Be have decided to destroy several of our streets. I now think of them as closed roads. When you try to put four lanes of traffic into two, it does not work. Simple law of physics. It creates more congestion, raises the blood pressure of drivers, and makes turning left onto the road almost impossible at times because of the new long lines of traffic. Then there are the so called turn lanes that have nowhere to turn. College Ave. West and Woodlawn come to mind. This makes no sense whatsoever. As for the bike lanes, if the road cannot be widened, don't do it. I will discuss bike lanes and bicycle riders in a future column. I no longer shop at any of the stores on Silvercreek. The CAA store saw the light and moved out. I do not shop at Freshco and Food Basics on the same trip. I now take side streets to avoid these closed roads. This also means that I can no longer access certain streets for garage sales. When I absolutely have no choice I will drive as if the road has been torn up. I have found no reasonable or for that matter unreasonable explanation as to why major roads have to be destroyed. As far as I am concerned these are now the most unsafe roads in the city.

Roundabouts are another atrocity at the moment. First of all they are too small. All roundabouts must be large enough for two semi trucks to be able to go all they way around at the same time. You can't even get a bus through some of them. What were they thinking? What about fire and emergency vehicles? While the theory seems to be reasonable, the fact is that there is no consistency in size and layout. There has not been enough proper information provided to drivers. Every driver in the province should have been sent an information kit before the first roundabout was built. They seem to cause more accidents and pedestrian injuries. In Europe and elsewhere they have been around for years, and drivers have grown up with them in place. Throwing roundabouts at our unprepared drivers is causing too many problems. Fortunately there are not that many in Guelph at the moment. Of course, I don't go to any garage sales near roundabouts. Getting to Rockwood is going to become more difficult now that they are building one at Jones Baseline. Then there is the Region of Waterloo and their fetish for roundabouts, plus the new light rail system I call the Berlin Street Railway (the BS R) taking them back to the future. I have stopped going to most of the region and changed my shopping habits. I can still get to St. Jacobs and the few places on Victoria Street in Kitchener I visit.

Traffic Calming (another oxymoron like rap music and postal service) is not the solution for lack of traffic planning. Too many roads were built with absolutely no thought as to what traffic might be like in just a few years. Of course it always looks good when you can save a few dollars. You will be long retired or out of office before huge dollars have to be spent to fix your screw up. This leaves people going through residential neighbourhoods that were never designed for the amount of traffic and probably going way too fast. See first paragraph. There are so many locations where it is much easier to take a short cut to avoid poorly designed or planned streets. If the streets had been properly planned with the future in mind, there would be no need for so called traffic calming. Unfortunately traffic calming is much cheaper, and requires no thinking (something that planners seem to excel at). All they do is plant a whole bunch of all way stops, and drop some speed bumps. This does nothing to solve the real problem except piss everyone off, and calm nothing. Of course, this puts these streets off limits on Saturday morning garage sale travels. This is one more reason that I want to see your address first when you advertise your sale.

Then there are the advanced green lights at many intersections. Some of these are so short that two Formula 1 cars would have trouble getting through before the light stops flashing. A bus will barely make the turn. Come now, if there are to be advanced green lights, make them long enough to be reasonable.

Ever notice that the streets in the newer residential areas seem to be getting narrower and narrower?

We now come to the latest atrocity: The Debacle on Victoria. What a (long list of expletives deleted) disaster! Completely closing a major intersection for a month is unacceptable under any circumstances. I have managed to avoid the area, and won't be going to garage sales nearby until the intersection is opened again. From what I have heard, short commutes have become an ordeal, and businesses are hurting. Then there are the temporary speed bumps, this is outrageous. (if this were part of a movie, the "peasants" would be storming the "castle" with torches and pitchforks) My already incredibly low opinion of city planners has just tanked. (they now rate below telemarketers) I am quite surprised that there has not been a mention of this mess in the local media , other than people being charged for trying to go through it. Even some prime ministers and presidential candidates have more brains and common sense.

Do you ever get the impression that they just don't want cars driving in the city?

The past several weeks have been rather on the serious side, so it is time to lighten things up with my next column. By the way, don't forget to file your paperwork before the end of the month so that the Canada Extortion Agency doesn't get on you case.

Welcome aboard Sarah Bowers-Peter from Crime Stoppers as our newest columnist.

Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.

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