The decision Edmonton City Council made on May 15, 2019 will result in a 40km/h speed limit on residential roads within our communities across the city as well as 30km/h speed limit within the YegCoreZone.

 

While this work will take a few months, I want to share why I supported lowering the speed limit within our communities. If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to read through my previous blog posts (Fast Speeds, Slow Solutions, Speed Limit Outcomes: Simple and Consistent) for more background.

 

 

First of all, I want to provide some examples of roads that will NOT be impacted by a speed reduction.

 

In Ward 1 that would include streets like 142nd/149th/156th/163rd/170th 178th/215th (Winterburn Rd)/231st and avenues like 87th (including Webber Greens Drive)/95th (west of 149th street)/100th/Stony Plain Road/107th/111th 118th/137th. The purpose of providing those examples is to clearly state that arterial roads and major collector roads (ex: 95th Ave west of 149th Street) will NOT see a speed reduction. 95th Avenue is currently listed as a collector road. 95th Avenue west of 149 st, while identified as a collector road, will be excluded from this process. The motion passed yesterday asks city administration to work with communities over the next few months to identify the anomalies before implementation.  These are the roads we commute on and maintaining the existing speeds is critical to ensuring the efficient movement of people and goods. The roads that are being discussed in this blog post are the roads within our communities.

 

As shown below, the YegCoreZone currently cuts the community of Crestwood and Parkview in half, making them have different speed zones on either side of 142 St. I would like to see the map adjusted so that Crestwood and Parkview will have the same 40 km/hr speed limit as the rest of Ward 1.

 

Map Credit: Troy Pavlek

 

Reducing speed limits within our communities was a part of my platform when I ran for re-election in 2017. The reason this was included in my platform is that I was regularly receiving – and continue to receive – traffic safety concerns from residents and community leagues across Ward 1. The primary challenge with addressing these concerns is we do not have the financial resources needed to address all of the traffic safety initiatives within our communities. Speed limits are one of the tools available to address traffic safety and because of the creation of our City Charter, the City of Edmonton now has the ability to change the default speed limit which significantly reduces the requirements for signage which in turn reduces the costs to implement new speed limits in neighbourhoods.

 

I have a number of reasons that I supported the reduction of speeds within our communities and want to cover each of them below.

 

Community Demand

In March of 2018, the city put out a public survey which asked Edmontonians what they thought about speed limits. The results were 72% of the nearly 700 asked wanted residential speed limits to be slower. The reason this survey went out at that time is that there was a change in provincial legislation which would allow Edmonton to change its default speed limits in neighbourhoods, which are set to 50 km/h.

 

It should be noted that this hasn’t just been discussed by a small group. It started over 10 years ago when the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues raised this with the Council of the day because many of the communities across the city were experiencing (and continue to experience) traffic safety issues. Upon completion of the 40km/h pilot, 5 of the 6 communities had a majority of residents support retaining the slower speed. The one community that didn’t support retaining the lower speed was due in part to a main collector road being included in the reduction. This is an important point and I believe the inclusion of the requirement to deal with the anomalies will ensure we can catch issues like this one prior to implementing speed limit changes.

 

In every city-wide statistically significant survey since then, the majority of Edmontonians have supported a slower speed on the local roads within communities but there has not been clear support on whether that speed should be 40km/h or 30km/h.

 

Traffic safety concerns have continued to rise across most of the communities in Ward 1. The feedback has been provided at community events, when I knock on doors, and through the emails/calls that I receive. Back in 2016, the Parkview Community League worked towards solutions to eliminate traffic shortcutting and speeding through local school zones as a result of the effective traffic controls that have been implemented in Crestwood. As a result, the Community League struck a Parkview Traffic Safety Committee (PTSC) which created a Draft Discussion Guide. This guide included background information on traffic issues, systemic causes and local impacts of speeding and neighbourhood short-cutting, and other analysis on road safety. But due to a lack of funding, only a few measures were implemented and there are still concerns that exist today.

 

Almost every community in the Ward has a few roads where that need attention. Addressing these concerns through road design is ideal but since we don’t have much funding for adaptable measures, we are primarily going to address the design concerns through our Neighbourhood Renewal Program.

 

Impact on Travel Time

A concern I have heard is around how much time this could add to our commute. For reference, I tried to find the furthest distance someone in Ward 1 might have to travel on local roads to reach an arterial road. The longest distance I could find using Google Maps is approximately 2km. That would be someone living in the southwest corner of Aldergrove taking a fairly odd route to the 87th Avenue/182nd Street intersection.

 

 

This example also unfairly assumes that this person would be able to maintain a 50km/h speed for the entire 2km and that they wouldn’t be stopping at stop signs, yielding at yield signs, or slowing down to take a turn. In this extreme example, the difference in travel time between 50km/h and 40km/h would be 36 seconds. This goes to show that lowering speed limits has a minimal impact on travel times and is a small trade-off for increased safety and decreased traffic fatalities. It is worth noting that this example is the furthest distance possible that I could find. As you can imagine, the average person has a much shorter distance from an arterial road to their home and the average person will take a turn slowly while also obeying traffic signs. Therefore the average person will see a total impact far less than 36 seconds but I felt that by providing the most extreme example, it would help alleviate any concerns that there will be a measurable impact to our commutes.

 

Safety and Liveability Improvements

When speed limits are lowered to 30 km/hr, the chances of survival if there is a pedestrian/car collision is substantially higher than at 40 km/hr or 50 km/hr.

 

Over the past 10 years, 13 people have died in pedestrian/car collisions on residential roads and hundreds more have been seriously injured. Moving towards a lower speed limit in Edmonton is part of the Vision Zero goal to have no deaths from traffic incidents. Not only does this increase safety, but it also increased the enjoyment and liveability of our communities. A neighbourhood where people are more comfortable letting their kids walk to the playground, going across the street to say hi to a neighbour, and have families out walking their dogs with less fear about road safety, will make our communities more vibrant.

 

 

Driving is a very habitual practice for most people. They take the same road to work every day, go the same speed, and have a routine time they travel. Although there might be a transition period while some get used to driving a little slower in residential areas, I believe this will be a very positive change for Edmonton. Although this transition will not happen overnight, I am proud that the City has taken a bold step to achieve Vision Zero and make Edmonton a better place to live. Before any changes are made, there will be a public hearing where any Edmontonian can come out to share any additional feedback. There will also be more engagement and research from the Administration so that in January 2020, Council can make the most informed decision possible.

 

#yeg #yegcc #yegroads

8 Comments

  1. John on May 16, 2019 at 9:30 am

    Thank you Councillor Knack for your clear explanation and rationale for the proposed changes. This not only makes intuitive sense, but you have clearly laid out the evidence in favour of lowering speeds in our communities.

  2. Jon Phair on May 29, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    I must have missed it.Where is the portion of this report where we teach our kids not to run out on the streets, put down your phones and pick up you head and look both ways. That’s how I was brought up. I knew how to cross the street. If you don’t want me to drive, just say so…

  3. Dennis wock on May 29, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Hi Andrew. I’m very disappointed that the speed limit as been lowered . We now have 30 40 and 50 . 30 km is to slow . One can nearly walk that fast , school zones should be 40 . There would be less pedestrian accidents if they would pay more attention., put there phones away and stop wearing ear plugs listing to the tunes. Also I’m sure this will be another cash cow for the city with photo and laser radar at the speed change locations . Also I have come across people step off the sidewalk to cross the street without even checking for traffic . I think our city council would like to have everyone either ride the bus or the LRT or ride a bike and eliminate car travel .

  4. Eileen Marano on May 30, 2019 at 11:01 am

    Maybe start handing out fines for jaywalkers and those who use their cell phone while just walking out into traffic and finally those who ride bikes and do not follow the laws such as walking the bike across the road.

  5. Alfred on June 3, 2019 at 9:00 am

    We invented traffic tools like cars to improve transportation speed and efficiency. Now due to a few irresponsible and careless people (jaywalkers and those who use their cell phone while just walking out into traffic and finally those who ride bikes) we have to lower, lower and lower the speed. Should we someday totally ban the cars? Isn’t slowing down the speed causing more gas consumption, gas/mileage, and hence higher pollution?

  6. David Arnold on June 26, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    I appreciate all the effort that you have taken to try and improve road safety, however have you considered that there are two parties involved in every collision — the driver and the car and the pedestrian so I would bring the following points to your attention.
    1) The justification for lowering speed limits is the survivability of any collision, and assumes that pedestrian car collisions are inevitable and places the onus on the car driver to make them more survivable. Are pedestrians to be held blameless?
    2) There is no indication of how pedestrians are to be held accountable for their actions. On many occasions I have seen pedestrians step into the road without looking to see if there is anything coming. They are in their own world and this is made worse by handheld devices. This is in addition to jay walking or not using marked crosswalks because it may mean a few extra steps. Similarly if they are using a crossing very people do not wait for the indication to cross.
    3) This is a City where emphasis is supposed to be placed on encouraging walking. I am somewhat perplexed at the City permitting new neighbourhoods to be built without sidewalks. This immediately pushes pedestrians into the roads with the cars.
    4) The proposed changes are supposed to simplify speed limits across the City but I see them making it worse. I can foresee endless speed traps at the transition points where the the speed limit goes from 40 to 30.
    4) I see a 40 speed limit universally on residential streets as livable since very often it is not possible to go faster due to parked cars etc. 30 km/h is just irritation.
    5) There does not appear to be any enforcement on bicycles using sidewalks. Bicycles can exceed 30 and they are judged as a road vehicle.
    6) I grew up in Europe where the attitudes are different. Roads were for cars and sidewalks were for pedestrians and each had right of way in their own domain. There was a lot of training for school children and adults on how to safely cross roads with the expectation that pedestrians would actually stop and look before crossing the street.
    7) Near my home there is a school/playground zone and for 3 days last week there has been a speed trap practically all day. On each occasion when I passed along that road there were plenty of cars but no children. This was not enforcing safety but a collection of taxes.
    8) I have complained about the amount of “road clutter” that drivers are supposed to pay attention to. In some areas there are many road signs and I would suggest that this is information overload and are only placed because a regulation states that they should with no common sense applied. Having said that I do feel that each school/playground zone should have an advance warning sign to help ensure the signs are not missed.
    I drive by Westlawn school regularly where the speed restriction was removed. There are still drivers that slow down to 30 even though the speed limit is now 50.

    If you had also indicated that Council was going to start an education program for pedestrians I would have been impressed.

  7. Anonymous on February 9, 2020 at 11:58 am

    It is completely artificial to ise your calculator to decide the time difference. Theory is not a reality. There will be more cars that cut into collector roads earlier increasing the traffic. It is the volume that increase accidents. This will cause more accidents in the collector roads and significantly reduce travel time. Take into account the driving habits ie the slow accelerators with lights turning green and you will see more traffic jams. Ttaffic jams will create more stress on the road which is a major cintributor to accidents. But as usual the council only looks for simple options as they are incapable if seeing the big picture. It would also be nice to see that safety was their real priority in the winter as in clearing the streets of snow.

  8. Curtis on February 25, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    I was recently given this link by my City Councilor to look at the background information and the feedback on this topic of concern. It is interesting to note that in this small sample size, 7 out of 8 (when my response is included) are not supportive of what is being contemplated about speed limit reduction in the City. I believe all the comments address the key issues and concerns about what is being considered by City Council. The manner of how decisions are being made and the data to support those decisions is seriously in question, much like some of the other decisions that City Council has been making in recent years. This is all about the need for improved situational awareness for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians and no amount of rules and global change in speed limits is expected to provide improvement. Of course, we should all want zero incidents and fatalities when it comes to drivers and pedestrians. That’s the same when we are working on the job and safety is number one concern within most companies. There are so many other factors that come into play when driving and reducing risks to zero. Distractions (by pedestrians, cyclists, drivers) come to mind as a huge factor. Poor site lines are a factor, which are unique to each road depending on direction, curves and vertical grades, etc. Congestion and conditions along the various roads in the City including width of the road with and without parked cars, bus stops, lighting, marked crossings, etc. are all factors. There is no amount of calculations or science that would support all roads in a specific area being the same lower speed limit. As noted by others on many occasions, the reduced speed limits will mostly benefit the City cash collections as enforcement begins, especially at speed transition points where cameras and enforcement most always are located. Sadly, reducing speeds, putting signs up and making new rules will not change behaviors, and in some cases may just make it worse. While obtaining public feedback can often be surficial and part of a regulated process the City needs to follow, I would encourage all those concerned with decisions City Council are planning to make about global speed changes to plan to speak or be present at the meeting scheduled for Wed Feb 26.

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