There was an interesting article in the Wheels section of the Saturday Star about speed traps and the tradition of flashing headlights at oncoming cars to warn them of the imminent radar. I recall that was one of the earliest things I picked up as a child watching adults drive — that unspoken “community” of car drivers evading tickets. While the author discovers that the ticket his friend got for warning drivers of the usual Prince Edward Viaduct speed trap can be defeated in court as it isn’t breaking any law, he wonders if these sort of traps are in our best interest.
On this day he was driving westbound on the Prince Edward Viaduct, which connects Danforth Avenue and Bloor Street across the Don Valley. He spotted a radar trap nailing eastbound drivers, and passed it at approximately 49.999 km/h. It’s there all the time so it was no surprise to him.
Of course, like most concerned citizens, he has often wondered: if radar is supposed to be a traffic safety measure, why would they run it on a bright sunny Saturday morning, on a three-lanes-each-way bridge, with excellent visibility in all directions, without a single intersection, store, home, school or in fact much human activity at all?
Surely, there are more dangerous places they could be trying to slow people down?
Let alone more important public safety initiatives the police could be doing?
Can you say “fishing hole,” boys and girls?
As bike rider and foot walker (often passing by this particular speed trap), I tend to agree that this is a fairly useless place to set one up, despite the awkward lane change cyclists have to make at the eastern end of the viaduct. Similarly, during a former regular long-bike-commute, I noticed a trap at the north end of the Bayview bridge above Lawrence (the cops are usually parked on the grounds of the Crescent School) where the road is wide and straight and a little excessive speed isn’t a problem.
In general, cars going a reasonably excessive speed do not bother me whether on foot or bike — what does are bad driving habits and poor skills at any speed as well as the things that get a lot of comment on this blog: parking in bike lanes, dangerous driving around cars/pedestrians, lack of signaling, rolling through open streetcar doors. It’ s a long list, but dealing with these items likely takes more effort to enforce/patrol, rake in less consistent money than the “fishing holes” and is often only targeted during one of their (media heavy) “blitzes” rather than as standard everyday practice. Yet, enforcing and targeting those infractions regularly likely has a much greater effect on our safety as cyclists, pedestrians and even drivers.
Top Photo by Tony Aw, Toronto Star. Photo of Castle Frank/Bloor trap by Gary J. Wood.