No stop in sight

When I moved into my first student house at the corner of Frontenac and Earl streets in 1999, I thought I would learn about bill payments, loan negotiation and how to make my mother’s cheese sauce. Instead, I have gotten a lesson in the painful distinction between the bureaucratic process and common sense. The lack of traffic control where I live is a dangerous problem with an obvious solution—a solution which local politicians have made far too complicated.

In order to direct traffic, city planners had nailed a stop sign to a tree on our corner. Its half-assed placement made my housemates and I wonder if it was even a genuine traffic sign.

We weren’t the only ones who wondered.

There were more car collisions on the corner that first year than I could remember seeing in the previous twenty years combined. Understandably, we were alarmed by the ambulances and police cars continually arriving at our doorstep.

Then about a year ago the stop sign moved to a metal pole in the ground, a pole like any other. This, my housemates and neighbours thought, was progress. Surely the high number of accidents on the corner would stop. Surely the number of phone calls to police we were making and the number of ice packs being brought outside would go down, if not disappear. How wrong we were.

Last summer my friend’s girlfriend had a run in with the intersection.

Driving east on Earl, she reached Frontenac and went through the intersection without decelerating—as the two-way stop dictates. Suddenly she got slammed by a car running through the ever-so-helpful Frontenac stop sign.

Her car was launched onto the lawn of KCVI; the driver’s side was totaled. Two police cars, an ambulance and a very frantic boyfriend later, the car was towed and she was taken to Kingston General Hospital.

The curb outside my house is usually littered with glass from windshields and tail-lights, and a fence on the corner has been destroyed. Twice.

This type of accident is too common, especially on a corner that is home to a high school and a skateboard park. There are many kids in the vicinity, even after school, when it is dark.

Half a block north on Frontenac is a bed-and-breakfast, and there are a number of families with small children on the street.

Considering that this is a high density, family-oriented neighbourhood with a school, a park and a place tourists can lay their heads at night, I am appalled to have witnessed seven accidents in the last 10 months at this corner. Calls, emails, and a letter have been written to our councillor, while the police tell us this corner has been a problem longer than they can remember. Why is it so difficult to get our elected representatives to read accident reports? Does a guest at the bed and breakfast need to be seriously injured before something is changed?

Instead of handing out parking tickets on Frontenac Street between 1a.m. and 7a.m. on Thursdays, maybe the city could redirect their energy. Just one week’s worth of parking tickets could cover the cost of installing a four-way stop, and end years of avoidable accidents.

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