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City likely to expand Edmonton 30 km/h school zone speed limit to junior highs

Edmonton moves to create more school zones to slow down cars
WATCH ABOVE: In a unanimous vote, an Edmonton committee has decided to extend 30 km/h school zones to junior high schools. Vinesh Pratap has more from city hall.

The City of Edmonton’s Community Services Committee voted unanimously Monday to expand school zones to junior high schools.

Before Monday, 30 km/h school zones were only in place surrounding schools with kids from Kindergarten to Grade 6. But now they will be enforced outside schools with students from Grade 7 to Grade 9.

The move comes following a report with recommendations based on an evaluation of the city’s 30 km/h school zone speed limits at 233 schools with elementary grades.

“When we moved to Phase 1 and put them in elementary schools we had a lot of people who said that we didn’t have enough evidence that they should go in,” Coun. Bev Esslinger said following the meeting Monday morning.

“Today’s report really demonstrated that we have abundant evidence that it’s making a difference, it’s keep our communities safer and most importantly, the most vulnerable.”

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READ MORE: Big drop in Edmonton school zone injury collisions since 2014 reintroduction

The report showed that in the three years before reintroduction of the reduced speed limit there were 50 injury collisions in school zones – 20 of which involved cyclists or pedestrians. But between September 2014 – when the zones were reinstated – and June 2016, the city said there were only 10 collisions, two of which involved cyclists and pedestrians.

READ MORE: Edmonton students calling on drivers to slow down in school zones

The city said it will do safety analysis and upgrades on 24 schools in 2017 and another 24 in 2018.

The decision to expand school zones to Edmonton junior high schools will still need approval from city council.

There is also talk about expanding the idea of slower speed limits around playgrounds. A report on the topic is due back to council next year.

“We’ve heard that from many residents: ‘have you thought about playgrounds?'” Esslinger said. “So we’re asking our administration to do a deeper review, because we know that some communities across Alberta, they do have them when they’re beside an elementary school. I’d like to understand that a little bit more.”

There are 600 playgrounds in Edmonton, according to Gerry Shimko of the office of traffic safety.

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School zone upgrades are part of the city’s Road Safety Strategy to help Vision Zero Edmonton achieve its goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries.

If approved, the 30 km/hr speed limit will be in place around Edmonton’s junior high schools by next September.

With files from Scott Johnston, 630 CHED