My position on reducing residential speed limits
I am stating very clearly that I am in favour of reduced speed limits on residential roads in our city. The evidence is clear that dropping the speed limit by 10 km/h will dramatically improve outcomes for pedestrians in horrific situations where they are hit by a vehicle.
Let’s stop and let that sink it. I am in favour of ensuring that someone getting hit by a vehicle suffers less harm. Now ask yourself: how did we get to a place where that statement has to be made?
The reality for many Calgarians is that they must drive personal vehicles to get to work, school, shops, recreation centres and all the other destinations in their daily routine. Our public transit network does not fully support all Calgarians to be able to easily access such things in their neighbourhoods. Not to mention, our insistence on creating communities of the past with nothing but houses has led to an inability to easily walk to basic amenities.
We are incredibly car dependent in Calgary. That’s not a value statement or virtue signaling; it’s a fact.
Council has been considering lowering residential speed limits since at least 1982, prior to most of Ward 3 being built. In those days, if Council had required residential roadways to be built discouraging high vehicle speeds, my communities would have been safer. Now we are left to rectify mistakes of the past while ensuring future communities are built will all road users in mind.
As a city councillor, my job is to improve quality of life for residents. In this city, my job involves mitigating potential harm in situations where vehicles and people come into conflict. For that reason, I am in favour of reducing the speed limit on streets where our kids, pets, parents and neighbours have a right to walk or cycle or wheel a chair or push a stroller safely in their own neighbourhood. Just as cars have a right to travel through the places where we live, so do other users.
There has been a great deal of citizen engagement on this proposal of reducing residential speed limits, complete with publicly accessible data on impacts. Like many of you, I have read the reports presented by Administration and experts on the links between speed limits and safer communities. I have listened to members of the public who have taken the time to speak or write in with their own experiences and perspectives.
The link to the full report and public submissions can be found here when you scroll to Item 8.2.2: https://pub-calgary.escribemeetings.com/Meeting.aspx?Id=e949d625-ada3-4950-8571-7175c76bd5cf&Agenda=PostMinutes&lang=English&Item=39
It has also been clearly outlined that the speed limit on collector roads (the main streets in our neighbourhoods that allow you to access major roadways) will not be impacted. We are proposing to make your home life safer, not hamper your ability to safely commute to all the places you need to access with your personal vehicle.
I will go one step further in my position. Although reducing the residential speed limit is a great place to start, speed limits alone will not solve the problem of road safety. Many of our collector roads were designed to enable higher speeds in vehicles because of their width. Many Calgary roadways are oversized, not only wasting taxpayer dollars on maintenance, but also creating unsafe conditions for the people in those neighbourhoods.
For this reason, I have actively advocated that Council should prioritize retrofitting existing oversize roads in neighbourhoods to calm traffic, and ensure that new communities have safer road widths. Calgarians need to be safe going to and from their destinations if they are to actively participate in our shared economy and community amenities.
On February 1st, Council needs to make a decision on speed limits and commit to creating safer neighbourhoods. Deferring this decision to a non-binding public vote in October is simply weak leadership. It is Council’s job to make informed decisions. In this case, we have consulted and engaged with the public for many years. Now is the time to act.
Categories: Community, Residential streets, Safety , Speed limits