City administration recommends status quo on playground zone hours in Edmonton

Click to play video 'Debate continues over Edmonton playground zones' Debate continues over Edmonton playground zones
June 25: Should speed rules in playground zones be changed? One Edmonton councillor is pushing for more information about how other communities handle these areas. Vinesh Pratap reports – Jun 25, 2019

City administration is recommending playground zone hours in Edmonton stay the way they are, despite concerns from residents about their effectiveness and what one councillor is calling a lack of data.

There is a 30-kilometre-per-hour speed limit every day in playground zones across the city from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. The program initially started in September 2014 with 30 km/h zones near elementary schools between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on school days.

READ MORE: Edmonton councillors frustrated by lack of speed with which city staff are dealing with playground zone speed signs

It was later expanded in September 2017 to include junior high schools as well as stand-alone playgrounds, and the hours were extended to their current 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Residents have raised concerns that playground zones are not effective at night, during the winter or when school is not in session.

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A report from administration looked at whether to continue with the status quo, reconsider playground zone hours or change the times for stand-alone playgrounds. The report is headed to the urban planning committee on Tuesday.

In the report, city administration state that though data is limited, there has been a drop in the number and severity of collisions in these zones.

READ MORE: Bob Layton: Edmonton’s patchwork of speed limits

Watch below: Some Global News videos about playground zones in Edmonton.

However, the data in the report does not separate pedestrian and cyclist collisions in the zones by year; instead, the information collected covers the collisions from 2014 to 2018. The report also does not compare whether variable playground zone hours — such as ending one hour after sunset — in other municipalities are confusing and whether they affect collisions in those regions.

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“I myself am going to be looking for more information,” said Councillor Tim Cartmell. “I think the report is incomplete in terms of the data it presents, and I would like to see more.

“I don’t know that we’ve done a complete analysis yet on how we might tweak these things to get a better understanding, and perhaps a bit more support, for them.”

Cartmell said he wants to see driving around the city be more intuitive and less sign-oriented.

“When you have these changing speed zones, where it’s 50 km/h and 30 km/h and 50 km/h and 30 km/h, perhaps a 40 km/h mixed in there somewhere, that’s not intuitive and that gets harder for an average driver to manage,” he said.

READ MORE: Residents and drivers question massive amount of traffic signs on south Edmonton street

The report states consistent playground zone hours reduces driver confusion and that changing the hours now would “negatively impact driver and pedestrian safety as both road users are becoming accustomed to the current hours.”

It further states that council is considering lowering residential speed limits in 2020, which could then affect playground hours and the signs required.