Calgary councillor wants to pump the brakes on lowering residential speed limits

Is 50 km/h too fast for residential streets? Calgary city council debates
Tue, Sep 4: Calgary city council is debating dropping the speed limit on residential streets from 50 km/h to 30 km/h. As Lauren Pullen reports, supporters have some scientific data to back it up.

After city council was asked to consider a proposal to reduce the speed limit in Calgary’s residential areas from 50 to 30 kilometres per hour, one councillor said the city should slow down on the full implementation of the safer speed limit.

“I’m not positive that jumping to 30 off the gun is where we should be going,” Ward 12 Councillor Shane Keating said on Thursday. “I’m more of an incremental approach to say, ‘OK, we know that slower speeds reduces injury, reduces death, we know that slower speeds in the very fine residential areas is appreciated.’”

Keating is suggesting residential speed limits first be reduced to only 40 km/h.

“Well I think it’s a compromise in that saying, ‘Let’s try the 40 because we’re going from 50 and we’re also trying to identify the streets,’” he told Rob Breakenridge on 770 CHQR. “I want to have the solid idea [whether] 40 [is] good enough or is it not.”
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LISTEN: Ward 12 Councillor Shane Keating joins Rob Breakenridge to discuss a more measured reduction of residential speed limits

“If we see a change along the way that this really does reduce the number of collisions, that’s what we’re interested in… reduce the injuries,” he said. “And does it get it down to the level which is where it should be, or should we go to the 30 at this point in time?”

Ward 7 Councillor Druh Farrell introduced a notice of motion to council on Tuesday proposing the city reduce speeds along neighbourhood streets to 30 km/h, citing World Health Organization research proving the increased survivability of a human-vehicle collision at the slower speed.

READ MORE: Calgary councillors propose residential speed limit of 30 km/h

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Keating said research into what streets throughout the city should have their speed limits reduced needs to be done before any changes are made.

“We have to identify the streets. We’re talking about the small residential streets — not the collectors in the community, not a community as a whole — just the very small streets where you have parking on both sides, front drive garages and a number of these types of things that make driving difficult, along with the speed.”

Keating said he and his fellow councillors have already heard from the proposal’s supporters and detractors, and wants to engage in discussions with those opposed to the speed limit changes.

“I want to delve into the fact of what the opposition is and do we understand the complete components? Do they understand that it’s not all streets? There are streets out there that should be 50, 60 and 70.”

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“We’ve got to be open to all sorts of things to change the behaviour that speeding is acceptable because the difficulty is, when a child gets hit in a residential area at a higher speed, we know the result.”

READ MORE: Nearly 700 speeding tickets issued in Edmonton playground zones on first 2 days of school

Keating said he will keep an open mind in council deliberations begin on Monday.

“I’m not opposed to us looking at changing the speed limit in some regard. Whether I’m prepared to go to 30 in Stage 1 or not, I’ll have to wait and hear what the stats are and the report and the discussion. I would prefer us to do the incremental aspect,” he said.

“I also want to make sure we’re doing this as efficiently as possible, and that may mean many different ways of enforcing it, whether it’s photo radar in residential areas, whether it’s peace officers or whether it’s citizens… [or] the Calgary Police Service, all of those should be looked at as a possible way of doing this.”