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EDITORIAL: Traffic safety at P.E.I. drive-thrus means double-double trouble

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Google map image of Water Street in Summerside by Holland College entrance - Courtesy of Google Street View

The 401 Highway heading out of Toronto on the Friday of a long weekend in the summer. The Los Angeles freeway heading out of the city of angels after the five o’clock whistle. Any coffee drive-thru in Prince Edward Island between 7 and 8:50 a.m. These are surely among the most traffic-congested routes in the world.

So it’s good to see the City of Summerside staff looking at safety measures on streets by two of its Tim Hortons restaurant locations.

On Water Street, in the city’s downtown, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle in 2018 as he tried to cross near the intersection that has a Tim Hortons on one side, and the entrance to Holland College’s Waterfront Campus on the other. Another collision right at that intersection in May involved a motorcycle that was slowing down to turn into Holland College.

To improve safety, city staff have been working at the intersection and replacing the pedestrian crosswalk sign, which is more than 20 years old.

Not only will the new light flash when walkers push the button, it will also illuminate the crosswalk at night.

As well, the city is narrowing the street near the intersection; moving the poles holding the activation buttons closer to the street; and improving measures to keep vehicles from passing on the right shoulder. Defined parking spaces in front of the Tim Hortons are also in the works.

This intersection requires vigilance on the part of pedestrian and motorized traffic, so any measures to make the area safer should be applauded.

And this is not the only tricky traffic area Summerside is hoping to improve.

Last week, technical services director Aaron MacDonald shared a plan that would involve closing the Granville Street entrance to the strip mall that houses a Source for Sports, Shoppers Drug Mart and Dollarama, among other shops. The entrance passes a Tim Hortons/Wendy’s drive-thru closer to the busy street where traffic inevitably bottles up as commuters queue for their double-doubles.

Apparently, the plan to close the Granville Street entrance was first floated several years ago by the owner of the strip mall, as well as the land where the drive-thru restaurant is situated, Plaza Reit. It seems Plaza Reit was prepared to close the entrance as part of renovations to the restaurant, but for some reason this never happened.

Residents’ concerns with the traffic have continued to mount, and technical services staff say the closure is past due.

We agree.  

Everyone knows the rush to and from work are the times of day that see the most drive-thru traffic and the shortest tempers. It only takes one impatient or inattentive driver or pedestrian to cause a collision that can end in tragedy.

Other municipalities across P.E.I. would do well to follow Summerside’s lead and solve the drive-thru dangers on their streets.  


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