Canada Blanket 30 km/h speed limit among trio of options to be considered by council committee
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City bureaucrats have prepared a suite of speed-reducing options that could see speed limits on all but Calgary’s busiest roads dropped to 30 km/h.
However, some city councillors have reservations about the proposed reductions, saying there needs to be more evidence on the merit of blanket speed-limit reductions and equal emphasis on enforcement and education.
“While I acknowledge that people pushing for the blanket change are very well-intentioned, I want to make sure that if council is going to spend time, money and resources on this that it actually gets us to the outcome we are all looking for,” said Coun. Jeromy Farkas, referring to increased safety.
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Three options are slated to be presented to the city’s transportation committee on Wednesday: an overall reduction to 30 km/h on both residential and collector roads (roads that move traffic from local streets to major thoroughfares); 40 km/h for both; or a reduction to 30 km/h on residential roads and 50 km/h on collector roads.
But Farkas said sweeping speed reductions may not achieve the desired outcome.
“I have to question the practicality of approaching this as a one-size-fits-all manner, because at the end of the day these roads are engineered to be driven a certain way. You can post speed limits at really any speed, but people will still drive the speed they are comfortable with based on the circumstances and how the road has been built,” said Farkas.
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The inner-city councillor would prefer the city address safety measures on residential and collector roads on a case-by-case basis through infrastructure upgrades, improvements to sidewalks and changing roadways so speeding is less of an option.
While Farkas agrees the city should take action, he said it has to be methodical.
Both Farkas and Coun. Shane Keating, who chairs the transportation committee, said dedicated enforcement is a necessary component of road safety if new speed limits are imposed, but can’t fall on the backs of the city’s police force, where resources are already stretched thin.
“It’s been proven quite strongly in other jurisdictions that if you don’t have strong enforcement, then changing the speed limit is going to do nothing, especially if you go down to 30 and 30,” said Keating, adding that 30 km/h for any residential street would create too much backlog.
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Instead, Keating would like to see a 40-km/h speed limit for residential roads and 50 km/h for collector roads.
“I’m in favour of 40, 50 and nothing else,” he said.
Keating said he’ll make his thoughts known when the committee receives the report, which recommends engagement with citizens and businesses beginning next month, with a final report and recommendation to council in February.
According to the city report, the options to lower speed-limits will result in varied reductions in collisions, injuries and fatalities, depending on the scenario.
For example, there are approximately 10,250 collisions per year in Calgary, and if a 30-km/h blanket speed limit is implemented, it’s estimated there would be a 10 to 20 per cent reduction in residential road collisions and four to eight per cent reduction in collector road collisions, marking a potential decrease of 750 to 1,490 collisions per year.
“Similarly, of the 680 fatal and injury collisions per year on residential and collector roads, administration anticipates the reduced speed limit of 30 km/h would result in 140 – 270 fewer fatal and injury collisions per year.”
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The other options are also anticipated to reduce collisions on city roads, but to a lesser degree than the blanket 30 km/h limits.
If a speed-reduction option is adopted, the estimated cost for engagement efforts is $200,000, to come from the existing safety and community mobility budgets.
Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, much like his colleagues, agrees action should be taken, but he prefers a split of 30 km/h on residential streets and 40 km/h for collector roads.
He said many councillors will have specific preferences depending on their constituency, but imagines most will get behind the plan.
“Even though everyone is behind it, as we go through this process it might be so hard that you will have some members of council throw their hands up and say, ‘look, let’s just keep it the way it is,’ ” said Carra.
“I think we are going to change it. We have the power to change it now thanks to the City Charter, and we just have to figure out how to get from where we are today to where we need to go in a way that actually gets us there and doesn’t create Armageddon, or commuter-ageddon.”
Speed-limit reduction collision outcomes
In Calgary, there are approximately 10,250 total collisions per year, which includes 680 fatal collisions and 260 vulnerable user casualty collisions.
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Scenario 1: Residential Streets at 30 km/h, collectors roads at 30 km/h
Anticipated reduction in speed: A five to 10 km/h reduction on residential streets and an eight to 15 km/h reduction on collector roads.
Anticipated reduction in collisions, by percentage: A 10 to 20 per cent reduction on residential streets and 16 to 30 per cent reduction on collector roads.
Reduction in collisions, by the numbers: A reduction of 1,320 to 2,530 collisions per year.
Value of collision reduction: $38.5 to $74.3 million per year
Scenario 2: Residential Streets at 30 km/h, collectors roads at 50 km/h
Anticipated reduction in speed: A five to 10 km/h reduction on residential streets and a two to four km/h reduction on collector roads.
Anticipated reduction in collisions, by percentage: A 10 to 20 per cent reduction on residential streets and four to eight per cent reduction on collector roads.
Reduction in collisions, by the numbers: A reduction of 750 to 1,490 collisions per year.
Value of collision reduction: $21.9 to $43.7 million per year
Scenario 3: Residential Streets at 40 km/h, collectors roads at 40 km/h
Anticipated reduction in speed: A one to five km/h reduction on residential streets and a four to eight km/h reduction on collector roads.
Anticipated reduction in collisions, by percentage: A two to 10 per cent reduction on residential streets and eight to 16 per cent reduction on collector roads.
Reduction in collisions, by the numbers: A reduction of 500 to 1,320 collisions per year.
Value of collision reduction: $14.4 to $38.5 million per year
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