Southampton bump-outs still of concern

Council recently heard from Southampton resident Doug Longmire about his concerns regarding the ‘bump-outs’ that were constructed along High Street approximately three years ago.

The ‘bump-outs’ were installed as a safety measure for pedestrians with the concept that they would create a shorter distance for those crossing High Street from south-north or vice versa but they have long been a contentious issue in Southampton.

The concept of the bump-outs began in 2014 when early ‘painted’ bump-outs were installed on a trial basis.  From there, the plan moved forward in 2017 with approval going out for the construction of more permanent bump-outs. In 2018, Saugeen Times carried out an on-line survey where the majority of responses were not in favour of the bump-outs following which we received letters to the editor.

Now, in 2021, they are still being discussed. Longmire questioned why a safety study has not been done regarding the bump-outs.  Longmire, who rides a mobility scooter, told Council that he had monitored them over the past three years and had, in fact, had “near death experiences”.

                                 Doug Longmire relies on a mobility scooter 

“I have had several horrible experiences with bump-outs since installed three years ago. For example, several vehicles have stop at the end of bump-outs put their vehicles in reverse trying to run me over when me and my scooter started crossing in the crosswalk after I pointed to the stop sign and asking for person to complete stop,”

Longmire added that “a few drivers have cussed me out making hand gestures like they would shoot me, some of them even reaching for something in their glove box thinking it could be a gun. I would then look at their plate noticing they were from a city. It’s bad enough when tourists do it but some locals will not stop. I also see several town trucks including big dump trucks stopping on the crosswalk. I know those bump-outs were meant to make it safer for pedestrians to cross and slow traffic down, but unfortunately I find that not true!”

                                                       Seniors voiced their concerns on bump-outs

Several seniors confirmed and agreed with Longmire’s concerns.  “Those bump-outs are dangerous” … “Sometimes two vehicles can hardly pass each other between them” … “There should be clear crosswalks where traffic has to stop” … “There’s three stop signs at Huron and there should be four – nobody knows that traffic going down High toward the lake has the right of way even when they turn left on to Huron”.

Longmire suggested that perhaps a committee could be organized to look into the bump-outs.

Mayor Luke Charbonneau said that,  “A new streetscape plan is being considered for Southampton and that a consultant will look at the issue of the bump-outs and that there would be a public process associated with that.  There will be an opportunity through the process for folks like you (Longmire) to give your input.  This will give us a plan in moving forward to implement an improvement to the streetscape in Southampton.”

Longmire added that he had a recent “horrible experience” and that Constable Greg Fletcher issued a warning to the driver and that the driver apologized.

Vice-deputy Mayor Mike Myatt said that he had talked with Longmire several times about his concerns and the “near misses” he and others had had.  He told Longmire that,  “The upcoming streetscape plan would be a good forum to make comments and those discussions become public and it’s important that we all hear the concerns.  I would also be interested to know through the Police department if there have been any incidents or accidents since the bump-outs were put in.  There’s nothing wrong with re-visiting this.”

Longmire confirmed that he had spoken with Police Chief Kevin Zettel and that there was no record of any accidents or mishaps but he would increase the patrols around those areas in question.

The Mayor said that consultation between the Director of Infrastructure, Amanda Froez, and Police would be appropriate during the streetscape process.

Longmire suggested that the town’s Operations Manager should also speak to town staff about coming to complete stops as “they set an example for town visitors”.

Councilor Dave Myette, as a member of the Police Services Board, said the meetings are open to the public and he invited Longmire to attend a meeting and see how statistics are presented.  “Perhaps you could bring something up then but I will bring this to the attention of the Inspector who collects the data for us and perhaps get him to increase monitoring.”

Longmire said the majority of the concern was in trying to cross Huron Street either on his way to the flagpole or coming back.  “The only time I find it safe is when there are people walking across and the cars seem to stop fine but other than that no-one stops at that stop sign.”

Myette reiterated that the bump-outs on High Street were designed to shorten the distance for those crossing in a south-north direction. “I guess there was a certain trade-off when they were designed.”

Councilor Cheryl Grace, who represents the Southampton ward, said that she had observed that the stop sign is back before the bump-out.  “That intersection was discussed in our Transportation Master Plan and I know that the Director of Infrastructure is looking closely at what can be done to make that intersection safer.”