It’s one month into the installation of 30 km/h speed zones around junior high schools and the word from Edmonton’s Office of Traffic Safety is: so far so good.
The city started installing school zone signs at 43 local junior highs in April in preparation for the 2017-18 school year. Dennis Tetreault, the speed management and traffic safety supervisor for the city, confirmed there has been a shortage of lead-footed drivers.
“As far as the stand-alone junior highs that have been enforced so far, the violation rates have been very low.”
Unlike when the first school zones came in two years ago around elementary schools, Tetreault thinks drivers now are used to it.
“A lot of the junior high schools are already at locations where there’s an existing school zone. They’re just next door to an elementary school. Those zones have been there all the time and drivers have known there’s a school zone there so it’s not something that’s unexpected. You’ve only extended the zone by 100 metres.”
For many schools along collector roads, the signs have been up since before the summer, giving drivers the opportunity to pass by daily and get used to the change for the fall.
Meanwhile, the city is about one-third of the way through the installation of 30 km/h speed limits around 178 stand-alone playgrounds. Work began in mid-September after city council brought in the new standard.
“Some of the comments that we’re hearing… a lot of people when they hear ‘playground zone’ they think, ‘there’s no playground here.’ But baseball diamonds or a soccer field, those sorts of things, those are all included,” Tetreault said.
“It’s not necessarily a park has to have a playground. If it’s a park where kids frequent or there’s activities, even swimming pools or splash parks, those will all be included as playground zones.”
Over the last five years, there have been 176 injury collisions involving children 15 years old or younger on non-arterial roadways. Sixty-five of those collisions occurred in areas that would have been covered by the playground zones.
“You’ve got a lot of collisions that are taking place in areas with kids under the age of 15, pedestrians or cyclists that weren’t being protected under the existing school zones,” Tetreault said.
WATCH BELOW: City council has voted unanimously in favour of lowering speed limits around Edmonton playgrounds to 30 km/h. Kim Smith filed this report in September.
The city hopes to have all 425 playgrounds and play areas marked by the end of the year. Those sites include 195 playgrounds adjacent to schools, 36 playgrounds already included within existing school zones and 16 new schools.