Slowing down year-round: Calgary turns school zones into playground zones

WATCH ABOVE: Calgary is turning all 180 school zones into playground zones to standardize speed restrictions. Global’s Tony Tighe reports.

CALGARY – The City of Calgary is turning all school zones into playground zones in a $545,000-transition that comes into effect this week.

“By getting rid of school zones and setting straight forward and consistent playground zone hours, we will enhance safety for both pedestrians and motorists,” said Ravi Seera, manager of traffic at the City of Calgary, in a Thursday statement.

Drivers are asked to slow down to 30 km/h in the playground zones. The difference between the two designations is school zones are only in effect on school days, whereas playground zones are in effect every day throughout the year. The city argued it became “less clear” to drivers when to obey signs as year-round schools were introduced in Calgary. There’s no change in time, as both zones are in effect from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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The city said on its website that the 9 p.m. end time is necessary because about 20 per cent of pedestrian collisions happen between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. It pointed out school gyms and other facilities are often used for sports and extracurricular activities after school gets out.

“There will no longer be any question as to when you need to slow down,” said Seera.

Calgary police said they’ve written about 3,000 less tickets in school and playground zones than they did last year.

The city said Calgary has approximately 180 school zones and 1,510 playground zones. Police said they will only enforce the new playground zones in old school zones after the signs have been switched, and not before the entire program is completed.

“The impact to travel time is minimal. Most playground zones are 100 – 200 metres long. Slowing down from 50 km/h to 30 km/h will add four to 10 seconds to your commute, but has huge benefits to safety,” said the site.

For more information about this project, including how to request a playground zone in your area, visit the city’s playground zones web page here.

With files from Tony Tighe