At Edmonton’s City Council, speed limits have been front of mind. Considering the ever-evolving discussions surrounding road safety, I want to provide a summary of what has been discussed so far and what may come forward during the City Council meeting next week. If you haven’t had a chance to read through my most recent blog post on this topic, please take a few minutes to read through that so that you have as much information as possible.
On May 14th, City Council will be debating changing the speeds on the local roads within our communities. It is very important to note that this would not at all impact the arterial roads that we commute on. The picture above provides a visual of roads that could see a change and roads that would retain their existing speed limit. The map does highlight roads that could have its speed limit reduced to 40km/h. As you can see, in this proposal even the collector roads that are running within communities would not be changed.
With that said, there are a couple of other proposals that will likely be discussed and I want to share them with you so you can offer any additional feedback if you are interested. The following list will also include the first proposal listed above so you can view them all in one complete list.
- Reduce the speed limit on local residential roads only to 40km/h. This is the proposal listed above and the map above shows the specific roads that would be impacted.
- Reduce the speed limit on local residential roads and local collector roads to 40km/h. The primary difference between this option and what is listed in option 1 would be the inclusion of some additional local roads within communities that are a bit wider. For example, this would include roads like Hawks Ridge Blvd, Trumpeter Way, Starling Drive, Secord Blvd, Rosenthal Blvd, Potter Greens Drive, Breckenridge Dr, 189th and 182nd Street (through Aldergrove, Belmead, and La Perle), 167th Street (Glenwood), 88th Avenue (West Meadowlark), 92nd Avenue (Meadowlark, Jasper Park), 104th Ave (in Britannia Youngstown), 145th and 146th Street (Parkview/Crestwood), 110th Ave (Mayfield/High Park). While not a complete list, this should give you a better idea of some of the additional roads that could be included if we were to include local collector roads.
- Taking options 1 or 2 but reducing the speed limits to 30km/h instead of 40km/h.
- YegCoreZone proposal. A group of residents/community leagues in the downtown and southside core have brought forward an idea to change their speed limits to 30km/h instead of 40km/h or 50km/h. This proposal would not impact anyone in Ward 1 as it would only be on the local roads within their communities and not impact any of the arterial roads that we would commute on. If options 1 or 2 were selected, this proposal could still be debated and adopted if there was support from a majority of Council.
- In the blog post that I have linked to in the comments, I have put forward a separate proposal that would apply city-wide. Because there is still work underway around roadway classification, I do not plan to put forward that proposal at this time.
- Leave everything as is with no speed limit changes.
When thinking about this topic there are a few key considerations for me: simplicity and consistency. Putting in place a plan that is simple to implement is important in order to address concerns around cost. Some of the recent reports have suggested changing speed limits could require spending $7-$16 million for signage. Thanks to our City Charter, our city now has the ability to change the default speed limit without putting up a sign on every street. This should allow us to keep signage clutter to a minimum while still making any changes. One possible concern with option 1 that will be explored next week is what signage requirements are needed if we do not include the local collector roads. There is a possibility that additional signage would be needed if option 1 is selected.
The one concern with option 2 is ensuring we can separate out the local collector roads from a major collector road. Technically collector roads are not defined as major or minor but I think that would be important to address a few key areas. For example, 95th Avenue from 149th Street to 189th Street is defined as a collector but is designed more like our arterial roads (ex: 87th/100th Avenues, 142nd/149th/156th/163rd/170th/178th Streets, etc.) While I certainly appreciate the simplicity and consistency that option 2 would bring, I would want to make sure we use our discretion to not apply the slower speed to all collector roads. The goal would be those collector roads that operate like an arterial road (ex: 95th Avenue from 149th Street to 189th Street) would not see a speed limit reduction.
Assuming we don’t run into any signage requirement challenges with option 4, I see no issue with proceeding with the YegCoreZone proposal. Although it adds a small layer of complexity, since it would not apply to those arterial roads, then the only time someone would be impacted is if you were visiting a friend or family member in one of those communities.
I also wanted to address a motion that I will make regardless of any of the options listed above. In my previous blog I referenced the work happening in Strathcona on their Neighbourhood Renewal. Their community is actually going to have their local roads redesigned and rebuilt to support a 30km/h speed. This involves using tools like raised crosswalks, curb extensions, etc. For those unaware of what I mean by a curb extension, if you have the opportunity to use 182nd Street between 87th and 95th Avenue in Belmead, you will see some points at which the road is narrowed to provide a safer crossing experience for the children attending Belmead School. Since the work in Strathcona has started, we have been told at Council meetings that for future Neighbourhood Renewal, that is going to be the standard and we can do all of that work within the existing budget.
While we have been told that is the new standard, I don’t believe that our current Neighbourhood Renewal Policy actually requires that and therefore it could create situations that unless the community getting renewal is engaged, they may not receive the same safety features as other communities. I don’t think communities should have to beg for safety so I think we should make sure that we design our communities using our Complete Streets Guidelines and clearly incorporating Vision Zero. So after our speed limit discussion next week, I will put forward that motion for Council’s consideration as I think regardless of the outcome of that discussion, we should make sure that safety is a core principle of all Neighbourhood Renewal.
A final motion I plan to put forward after the speed limit debate is related to our Community Traffic Management Program. There are over 100 communities across the city that are looking to have some type of traffic calming measures installed. In our last meeting we were shown our current budgets and there is not any money set aside for the installation of any type of traffic calming measures in 2020 and beyond. Since we only fund traffic safety work through our photo radar/red light camera revenue and that budget is currently fully accounted for, the only other way to fund that work right now would be to raise property taxes. I don’t believe that is what we should do and so the motion asks for us to create a mechanism to allow any interested community to proceed with installing certain types of traffic calming measures like the example shown below from Seattle.
While I know this won’t help every community, I think allowing think type of creative solution to traffic calming will help address some of the immediate issues while we work our way through the city as part of the Neighbourhood Renewal Program. There will obviously need to be some type of community engagement required before installations like those shown above can proceed but I think the city can create a simple process for communities to use to respond to some of the safety concerns that have been occurring for a number of years.
I hope this summary has helped give a better idea of what is being discussed. Please take some time to share any additional feedback you have on these options being explored.