By Breann Gurney
Wide roads and fast cars pose a threat to communities within Edmonton. City council members proposed a bylaw to lower speed limits to 40 kilometers in an attempt to slow down speeders and increase safety.
Further discussion is scheduled for a council meeting later this month, after surveys conducted on behalf of the city revealed communities agree with the speed change.
When the proposal was initially introduced in 2010, there was a significant deficit in the city budget for the changes due to signage laws.
“If we wanted to change the default speed [before the change in legislation],” said city councillor Andrew Knack, “it would require signage on every single street.”
However, after changes to provincial by-law legislation relaxed rulings surrounding signage on city roadways, the cost of speed limit changes incurred by residents lowered significantly.
“The latest piece of the puzzle,” said Knack “is that the province has changed the rules that we no longer need signage on every street.”
According to Knack, media reports have grossly overestimated the cost of a city-wide speed limit change, since the new rules require fewer new signs to be put up. Edmonton would have a new local default speed and require only localized sign changes on applicable streets.
The city is currently looking at tools to address the revision, including three key proposals brought before council in April of this year.
The proposals include a 40 km speed limit on local roads (which doesn’t apply to collector roads), a 40 km limit on both local and collector roads, and a 30 km limit on local roads within central Edmonton.
Knack says council was “unsure if there was enough political support for a city-wide change” but traffic concerns continue to be a top priority among surveyed residents.
“I’d like us to develop consistent and simple rules and minimize how much we are changing the speeds.”
Yet, Edmonton Police Service statistics confirm the suspected connection between width of roads and increased speeds, which is commonly regarded as best practice among city planners.
“There’s adaptable, low-cost infrastructure that can be put in to narrow roadways and can have impacts,” said Knack. “It can have a calming effect on the roadway because it can narrow it down.”
A pilot project performed in Edmonton’s Belmead community has shown that the average speed of travelers along 189th Street was reduced by 12 km per hour after bike lanes were implemented in the area.
(City of Edmonton)
“Speed limits don’t fix everything,” said Knack, “but typically speaking, road design and narrower roads force people to drive more slowly.”
“There will always be exceptions to the rule but I’d like to try to have some sort of universality.”