Every resident of Baker Street in Lennoxville, without exception, has signed a petition calling on the city to install speed bumps on their road. The petition, championed by Baker Street resident Stephanie McRae at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, is the locals’ response to an increase in reckless driving on the small wooded street on the top of the College Street hill, either from night time street racers or regular commuters aiming to skip congested traffic.
“What we’re asking is for you to protect our children and our elders,” McRae said, pointing out that without the traffic issues, the road is a peaceful and pleasant place to go for walks and enjoy the woodland surroundings. “Baker is not a big street and there are a lot of people who come to walk in its wooded areas, but the traffic circulation on it is much too fast. People use the street as a shortcut coming down the hill and they move very fast.”
McRae pointed out that there are some twenty young children and their families living on the street and said that the excessive speed of the drivers who cut through her neighbourhood is a source of constant concern for all.
“It’s bad, it’s very bad,” agreed Gabrielle Newman, noting that residents have heard and witnessed street-racers passing by, often in both lanes simultaneously, at all times of day and night. “Something’s got to be done.”
Newman said that she was pleased to see McRae circulating the petition because she was concerned that the residents of the street might not be calling enough attention to the issue. While she and her husband have brought traffic and racing concerns to the borough council and called the police about the matter several times, the Baker Street resident said that one or two voices repeating themselves quickly becomes background noise while a host of voices gets more attention.
“It makes a difference to have the parents of the kids speak up for themselves, too,“ Newman added.
Sherbrooke’s Council President, Serge Paquin, made no commitment with regard to the installation of speed bumps, pointing out that the city decides such things on a case-by-case basis, but he echoed Newman’s sentiments in saying that the more voices that speak up about an issue, the better.
“The more calls we get, the more surveillance there will be,” Paquin said.
Lennoxville Borough President David Price, while acknowledging that speed bumps would be a good solution to the two major problems the residents of Baker Street are facing, said that it was very unlikely any would be installed.
“It’s not popular in Sherbrooke,” Price said. “I doubt very much that they’ll go for the speed bumps.”
The Borough President nonetheless established that the issues at hand are clear and said that the petition will be forwarded to the city’s Public Safety Committee for consideration.
“I lived on Baker Street for over ten years, and it was a shortcut then,” Price said. “Whenever there’s a tie-up of traffic (at the corner of College and Queen) people cut over onto Codere Street and make the run down Baker.”
Though not able to offer an immediate solution to the shortcut problem, Price said that he suspects the issue will mainly be resolves by the completion of the highway 410 extension to the south end of Lennoxville. When that happens, which the Ministry of Transport is now predicting will be the end of October, Price said that he suspects that much of the traffic currently coming down the College street hill will simply continue around Lennoxville and never come into the community at all.
The matter of street racing is not quite so simple, but Price said that progress is being made on that front as well.
“The police are well aware of the matter and they’ve caught some,” the Borough President said. “They know exactly who certain other ones are and they’ve been visited. That tends to slow them down a little bit.”
Stating that the Sherbrooke police have a “good file,” Price explained that the racers are known to be people from outside of Lennoxville and who are drawn to the area around Baker because of its low traffic volume and fresh pavement..