Westbury and Cote St Catherine is a busy intersection, especially for the Jewish community. Federation CJA and the Cummings Center are on the northwest corner, the Segal Center and Y on the southwest, and an old age residence northeast. Clearly a lot of seniors cross the intersection everyday.

The borough of CDN-NDG is well aware of the demographics at the intersection, and holds four Council meetings at the Cummings Center every year. There is a pedestrian signal to cross Cote St Catherine, a 10 second red instead of a straight green, not the norm for a two-way continuous street. I don't quite see the added safety but do spend a lot of time idling on Westbury.

City traffic engineers made an unusual synchronization change this past September along Cote St Catherine between Victoria, Lemieux, and Westbury. Without getting into technicalities, they programmed the lights at Westbury to turn green the same time as Victoria, where, for decades, Westbury turned red when Victoria turned green. Consequently, many drivers now speed westbound towards Westbury trying to make the green, and are baited to run the red. What could be more dangerous for an unsuspecting senior about to step off the curb?

Eastbound to Victoria, a busy pedestrian crossing near the Metro, the same speeding and red light running is encouraged. If the new synchronization is a computer glitch it's scary to go three months unrecognized. If it's intentional, it needs a serious rethink. Unfortunately, mayor Montgomery and her city councilors don't see the clear and present danger. If I were the mayor, I'd pick up the phone and call Engineering, before we have another pedestrian victim.

Of course Westbury and Cote St Catherine is not the only intersection in CDN-NDG that baits drivers to speed and run red lights. Cote St Luc Road, Sherbrooke St, Girouard, Terrebonne, etc, provide many examples where angry drivers are trying to make fading greens. Makes you wonder what happened to the good traffic engineering we used to have.

We all want safe streets. The question is how to get there. The last thing we need is to spend $58.5 million dollars over the next three years on pedestrian signals and still have 20 yearly fatalities to deal with. Properly synchronized traffic signals calm drivers, decrease speeding, decrease accidents, and save lives. It's about time our mayor recognized the failings in her borough, and took action.

Norman Sabin


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