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Speed limit review coming after Edmonton public consulted

A road in Edmonton's Ottewell  neighbourhood. Speed bumps and other traffic calming measures are coming to four Edmonton neighbourhoods, in an attempt to reduce traffic and speeding on residential roads. September 29, 2015.
A road in Edmonton's Ottewell neighbourhood. Speed bumps and other traffic calming measures are coming to four Edmonton neighbourhoods, in an attempt to reduce traffic and speeding on residential roads. September 29, 2015. Lisa Wolansky, Global News

There is going to be a city-wide review of speed limits in Edmonton. Council’s Urban Planning Committee gave the go-ahead Wednesday for city staff to begin a consultation process with the public.

Some residents made sure they got the ball rolling by addressing the committee.

“I would love to see 30 km/h on residential streets,” Julie Kusiek told councillors, with her four children in tow. She said it’s very busy in her south side Queen Alexandra neighbourhood.

“In the areas where we have a lot of pedestrians, bikes and infill, we need to be looking at lower speed limits to keep everybody safe.”

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READ MORE: Heart-stopping dashcam video captures close call between little boy and van in Edmonton 

Gord Cebryk, the branch manager for Parks and Roads said city staff will conduct surveys at the festivals this summer, then they’ll reach out to parents through the school systems this fall, to get feedback early in the new year.

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“What we want to do is have as much input as we can and we’re looking at whatever ways we can that are, I’m going to say, non-traditional ways,” he said.

Staff will ask residents how fast drivers should go in neighbourhoods, on roads entering neighbourhoods, as well as the main roads that cross the city.

READ MORE: Slower speed limits in Edmonton around playgrounds?

Coun. Michael Walters said, when he first started watching the issue 20 years ago, long before he was in politics, it would have been unthinkable to see demand for local roads to be 30 km/h. Times, he said, have changed.

“I think that support has increased drastically. Although I still think it’s a divisive issue and we have to make sure we talk to the citizens of Edmonton robustly about this and educate them about the benefits of 30 km/h.”

Part of that education will be focused on road terminology.

“A collector carries traffic in and out of a neighbourhood but people also live on that road so it’s a duel function, but people are impacted by whatever that speed limit is,” Cebryk said.

The topic won’t be limited to having local roads 30 km/h or 40 km/h.

“Do we need to have a conversation about arterial roads as well?” Coun. Andrew Knack asked.

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“If we’re looking to say: ‘What if we did 30 on all local roads?’ But in order to help address consistency, do we want to see 60 on all of our arterial roads? Would that help make more people supportive of a 30 km/h change?”

Cebryk admitted to the committee that some arterial roads could bump up the speed limit from 50 km/h to 60 km/h based on what’s appropriate for the engineered design of the road. Many, many roads are built to be faster than the current posted speed limit.

READ MORE: School zone speed limit signs going up at Edmonton junior high schools

Coun. Bryan Anderson suggested a plebiscite be added to the election ballot, however there was lots of opposition to that. There’s a fear that putting an ‘X’ in a box without any context for an overall policy could lead to some ill-advised outcomes.

Police Chief Rod Knecht recently suggested increasing the speed of the Anthony Henday to 110 km/h, however this review won’t delve into that because the province sets the speed limit on that provincial highway.

A change by the provincial government in the City Charter will allow cities to set their own speed limits.

Currently, the default speed limit is 50 km/h.

That City Charter update is expected to be in place later this year, allowing the city to bring a review on speeds to city council early in 2018.

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