A Student’s perspective on Dartmouth traffic woes

Map by Mary Metz / @_ordinarymary

Dartmouth’s population has been growing significantly over the past few years. With that, also grows the number of vehicles on the streets and the amount of constructions needed to accommodate this population.

HRM has seen an increase in population that’s higher than the national average over the past few years.

In 2016, there were nearly 93.000 residents in Dartmouth. Of that number, more than 40.000 work outside of their homes, using vehicles, public transportation, bicycles, or walking as a mode of commuting. Another big portion of Dartmouth residents also consist of students, that’s almost another 20.000 who also need to move around the city.

Observing that the city is not prepared to have such a significant amount of vehicles on its streets, student Mary Metz has come up with a special map. The diagram is designed to showcase the areas in Downtown Dartmouth where drivers and pedestrians face more difficult challenges.

Mary Metz is a student at the Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design (NSCAD) graduating next year with a bachelor of interdisciplinary design with a minor in illustration. The student has been living in Downtown Dartmouth since 2014 and has experience using both public transportation and her own vehicle for school, work and running errands.

Metz came up with the map to present as a solution for an assignment for an illustration class she took at NSCAD last Fall.

Map by Mary Metz / @_ordinarymary

“The idea of creating a map of Downtown Dartmouth came from my experience living and driving in the area,” said Metz.

She said her motivation to create the map came from her personal experiences.

“The areas that I focused on in the map I created are areas where I have personally experienced drivers nearly hitting me or my car,” said Metz, “I began by marking areas that I found irritating, this included everything from potholes, places where people park illegally, roads that are uncomfortably narrow, blind turns and crosswalk lights that aren’t long enough.”

Picture by Clara Nishida

At the time the student designed the map, road construction reduced inbound traffic on main street to one lane at all times. Motorists were having significant delays and having to use alternative routes, also increasing the traffic on those areas.

After marking the problem areas, Metz said she had to narrow her list down to ensure that the places would be identifiable in the map itself. She said for her, poor visibility is the main problem.

“The first thought came from the intersection of Victoria and Ochterloney, personally, I avoid coming up Victoria in this area because I realized that the poor visibility made me gamble whether I’d get into a collision or not.”

Metz said since the time she created the map, she hasn’t observed many changes besides a new stop sign added at the intersection of Irishtown and Queen.

Picture by Clara Nishida

When presenting the map, she said it was clear the traffic problems she pointed out were immediately relatable to others who were also affected by traffic on their daily routine. Metz said there was a ‘commiseration of road rage’ in people’s reaction when seeing the map.

“Because I go to school in Halifax, not many people I know live or spend time in Dartmouth, so I didn’t expect them to recognize the areas that I was focusing on.”

When asked what changes she would like to see happening to improve the traffic conditions in Dartmouth, the solution sounded simple: “I think painting new lines on the roads downtown would be a big start. On the roads that are narrow, it’s hard to recognize how small they are until you see what area is dedicated for moving traffic.”

Metz said drivers and pedestrians can also play a role in improving those conditions.

“Things as simple as making full stops at stop signs, keeping your head up when crossing streets, not parking in no-parking areas would make a big difference to everyone. Just be a respectful defensive driver.”