Round the Roundabout at Erb and Ira Needles

Went to take pictures at the Erb and Ira Needles roundabout this morning, checking out the complaints of heavy traffic flow. Woah! It ended up being a pedestrian was a tricky problem.  Made sure to make eye contact as I crossed the crosswalks. The people coming into the roundabout were just fine, stopping for me. But the people already in the roundabout. Nope. No stopping. I ended up pointing to the tiny sign (note to staff on that one) saying yield before someone stopped.

Roundabout Rush

The roundabout itself is very busy at rush hour, but cars didn’t have to wait very long, certainly not as long as traffic light. Staff told me that the busier the roundabout, actually the better as cars slow down and drivers pay attention. Seemed to be so. there were also times when very few cars were entering the roundabout and times when it was packed. Might be a function of traffic lights in other areas.

I also had a question from a constituent about why the new stores are right at the road rather than a parking lot separating the road from the building, as in the Canadian Tire plaza across the road. This is the new urbanization. If you are on foot, there is a sidewalk in front of the buildings and you can easily enter the stores. This morning there were two or three pedestrians crossing the roundabout. The constituent was concerned cars could crash into the stores,but there is a small lawn in front of each. It looks good to me and as a sometime pedestrian, it will be great not to negotiate the parking lot desert full of potentially moving cars.

People are concerned about the increase of traffic at the new mall at the boundary of Kitchener and Waterloo on Ira Needles.  It is important to note that there will be buses to this mall and two roundabouts to help with traffic. The widening of Ira Needles Blvd from Highview to Erb is planned for 2019. There are no plans to do anything to Thorndale, as far as staff knows.  People have expressed concern about a new big box heaven in this area when we are trying to intensify. However the people who live in the area are very excited to have shopping. Should note that this is at the very edge of the countryside line. A monument to the end of sprawl?

 The new mall will have pedestrian amenities and “prettier” parking lots within the mall area. There will be stores facing the roadway once again. There are concerns about smells from the landfill and seagulls at the restaurant patios. Staff works very hard to stop most landfill smells with pipes underground, some of which lead to a bio-gas energy facility. Seagulls? Just don’t feed them!

Built close to road

Stores built close to the road


9 responses to “Round the Roundabout at Erb and Ira Needles

  1. The Smell is still there!!!! – I’ve also been searching on the net to no avail….. I live at Westforest Trail and Victoria KItchener and can smell it almost on a weekly basis… what is the status of it now?

  2. I was searching the natural gas smell that seems to rise around the ira needles and university area. I have been outside the new walmart and have smelled a very strong smell, something that was like a rotten egg smell. others have had to have noticed this smell. Where is it coming from? is it harmful?

    • I will check with staff to see if they can locate it.

    • Here is the reply from staff.
      Hi Jane – With the proximity of the Wal-Mart I would guess they would get landfill odours there from time to time. They are very close to the south expansion cell which is the active landfilling cell. Overall there is a site wide gas collection system and the system is installed as the waste is placed. The gas system cannot be fully used until it is adequately sealed from the atmosphere so there is usually a lag from when the system is installed until it can be used so though there is some gas collection in the new cell, it is unable to have full gas collection until the waste placement is complete and the final capping finished.

  3. I think the new urbanization is great, but someone should tell business owners that it only works if they have storefronts facing the road. Most of the new Ira Needles/Erbsville Rd. developments have their backs to the road and open onto the parking lot, which doesn’t enhance the pedestrian experience all that much.

  4. So, my experience is leading me to conclude that roundabouts ARE fabulous for traffic … moving cars effectively, anti-idling, etc. However, they are certainly NOT the solution for pedestrians … well, in our community at any rate.

    Amen, Karen. Regardless of the safety numbers, I have serious concerns about the perception of safety by pedestrians. Even if the number of pedestrian collisions is lower at roundabouts, they don’t necessarily feel any safer when you’re trying to use them. Where people feel unwelcome on foot, they won’t walk. When people don’t walk, they often drive, and that in itself is a serious public health problem. Where is the research on perceived pedestrian safety in roundabouts vs. signalized intersections?

  5. Another excellent post, Councillor!

    The pedestrian/vehicle interface at roundabouts is a terrible challenge … were you aware that the Region and the City have been at odds for years about the signage on our assorted roundabouts, specifically in regards to the yield to pedestrians?

    In a perfect pedestrian-friendly world … drivers would yield and the signage telling them to would be applicable and effective.

    However, this is far from a perfect world … and our city policy has been to ask the pedestrians to YIELD until they feel safe to cross. The Regional traffic folks and others will and have taken issue with that approach – but my goodness, I am not willing to teach a child to take a RISK by assuming that a car will stop….cos chances are that they won’t.

    So, my experience is leading me to conclude that roundabouts ARE fabulous for traffic … moving cars effectively, anti-idling, etc. However, they are certainly NOT the solution for pedestrians … well, in our community at any rate. I’ll be watching really carefully to see what is proposed for the intersection by the new library/Y.

    If people would just choose to SLOW down … imagine the difference it would make – at intersections, in school zones, in parking lots, in residential neighbourhoods … good grief.

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