Residents in parts of northeast Calgary say street racing and speeding in their communities is out of control and police need to take more action against offenders.
People in communities like Redstone and Skyview Ranch say cars ranging from souped-up Honda Civics all the way up to Lamborghinis are using residential streets as race tracks, showing off how fast their cars can go and how much noise they can make.
They say it’s a dangerous problem that’s getting worse and fear it will take a tragedy before police and the city take any action.
“The amount of reckless driving out here is terrifying,” said Jessie Aldana, who has lived in Skyview Ranch for the past four years.
“Right behind my house on 60th Street there’s constantly people racing up and down, and as a parent it’s frustrating. My kids have a hard time sleeping and there’s been accidents back there,” said Aldana, who notes Stoney Trail is also being used to race and drive at high speeds.
“Some are the souped-up BMWs or Hondas, and there’s also a lot of motorbikes,” she said. “We can’t get their licence plates because they’re going too fast.”
Police response time ‘incredibly slow,’ frustrated resident says
Aldana says she’s seen speeding through playgrounds, close calls and even accidents in her neighbourhood. She says that by the time police arrive to calls about racing, they’re too late to catch the drivers.
“The response time is incredibly slow and it’s frustrating,” she said. “We need more of a police presence in the community on these high traffic roads.”
The Calgary Police Service says it’s aware of the speeding problem and has increased enforcement but relies on the community to alert them to problem areas.
Aldana says it’s a problem that’s getting worse. Residents in the neighbourhood say 128th Avenue N.E. and Skyview Ranch Boulevard and Skyview Ranch Drive are popular roads for speeding drivers, with some using a traffic circle to drift around.
“When I first moved here, I didn’t notice it. But as there’s more communities being built, it’s definitely getting a lot worse. This year has been the worst,” she said.
Mothers afraid to let their kids play outside
Aldana says building a racetrack outside of the city could also reduce racing in neighbourhoods and residential streets.
“It’s a lot of racing, revving engines, and it’s getting out of control,” said Redstone resident Amanda Smith-Meyerink.
“If you lose control, you’re going to go into the front of my house, you’re going to kill somebody,” she said.
“I have a child with special needs and if he’s outside playing, I don’t know if he’s going to get scared and run into the street with these guys racing up and down the roads,” said Smith-Meyerink.
Residents say Redstone Boulevard and Redstone Drive are problem areas.
“I even confronted the driver of a Lamborghini on holiday Monday. He was showing off to his family and I gave them what for,” said Smith-Meyerink. “I initially tried to step out and wave him down but he was going so fast he didn’t even see me.”
“It’s getting worse. It used to be late at night but now it’s all hours of the day,” she said. “We’re done, residents are done and we don’t know what else to do.”
Smith-Meyerink says she’s now afraid to let her kids outside and play.
More stop signs, speed bumps urged
She says she called Calgary police on the Lamborghini driver with an address but she notes officers just cruised by and left the area without speaking to anyone.
Smith-Meyerink is one of many community members calling for more stop signs and traffic calming measures like speed bumps to be installed to slow down drivers.
Others have already been on the receiving end of what say is an epidemic of fast and dangerous driving.
“Right away, I became familiar with the racing,” said Paddy Oliver-Arsenault, who recently moved to Skyview Ranch. “Every evening you hear them. The street becomes taken up with that.”
Oliver-Arsenault says her son was hit by a vehicle just two hours after picking up a brand new car.
“He got hit so hard the car flew two feet in the air and he was taken to hospital with head injuries,” she said.
“You flag people down to say slow down and they give you the finger,” said Oliver-Arsenault.
“It’s these young guys with these cars that are extremely loud and they’re flat-out racing,” she said. “We definitely need more of an influence from the police.”
Oliver-Arsenault says nobody was charged in her son’s accident and she says there’s a feeling in Skyview Ranch that police don’t care too much about the problem.
“I just don’t see that commitment from them to say there’s a serious problem. People are getting hurt, people are going to get hurt and we have to be an influence in these neighbourhoods,” she said.
“It’s only a matter of time before something worse happens and it will probably be a child. It’s going to be a devastating loss for a family,” she added.
Councillor says speeding is a major concern across whole ward
Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal says it’s an issue that’s firmly on his radar this summer. He’s hearing similar complaints from northeast residents across many communities.
“Speeding is a significant concern and we see that right across the ward,” Chahal said. “It’s become more and more problematic over the last few months, and we have a lot of work to do.”
Chahal says he’s heard complaints from Redstone and Skyview Ranch and also nearby communities, including Saddle Ridge, Taradale, Falconridge and Castleridge.
Chahal says he’s looking at traffic calming including speed bumps near playground and school zones, the possibility of more cameras and more traffic enforcement, ticketing and education from police.
“Penalize those who are speeding through communities. Start with a warning and then increase penalties further and further as more infractions happen,” said Chahal.
Chahal says northeast communities need more investment in lights, crossings and speed bumps and that new communities could be built with those measures already in place in the future.
Chahal is circulating a traffic survey for residents in his ward to register their concerns and suggestions.
Fewer cars have led to higher speeds, police agree
The Calgary Police Service says residents should continue to make police aware of problem areas and incidents to help them deal with what can be a difficult issue to police.
“If there’s anything occurring in residential areas, we do have a residential traffic enforcement team,” said acting Sgt. Chris Agren.
“There seems to be less cars here and there this summer, and it’s lead to higher speeds,” said Agren. “We have been doing more enforcement.”
Agren says residents can submit a traffic service request through the CPS website that can lead to police monitoring an area and also working with the City of Calgary to look at calming measures and other recommendations.