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App incorporates lower speed limits in Edmonton commute estimates

Maximum 40 km/h signs will be the new norm on some Edmonton streets as council considers lowering speed limits. Global News

Edmonton city council is considering a default speed of 40 km/h on residential and collector roadways and 30 km/h in high-density neighbourhoods in central Edmonton.

To show just how much a commute would be affected, the city created a browser app called the Estimated Arrival Tool. It shows how long a trip currently takes, then how much time a lower speed limit would add. Most routes see just a few seconds added.

“If it doesn’t look like it’s a lot of difference — but we know that it makes a street safer — then maybe it’s something we can explore,” Councillor Aaron Paquette said.

“If there was a collision, for that pedestrian to avoid serious injury or even death. So if shaving off 15 seconds off your commute saves a life or prevents serious injury for an entire family to bear. That is a good trade off.”

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READ MORE: Edmonton city councillors consider 2-tier residential speed limits; decision won’t be made until at least 2020

Potentially lowering speed limits would align with the city’s long-term goal of seeing zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries. A city report from 2018 shows that since 2015, there has been a 41 per cent decrease in deadly crashes.

The reaction to speed limits potentially lowering is mixed.

“I think speeds are fine as is,” Duncan Maguire said.

Others think it’s a good idea.

“It’s safer for pedestrians. There are children running around in residential neighbourhoods, they chase balls, little dogs come running out. It’s a good idea to have it slowed down,” Julia Boberg said.

Prince Albert, Sask. has 40 km/h speed limits on many streets. It’s been like that for decades. Paquette went to the city as part of his research.

“I don’t know why we initially went to 40 km/h,” City of Prince Albert transportation and traffic manager, Keri Sapsford, said. “I can say that it works for us. We don’t have any reason to change it to higher or any lower.”

“It’s just widely accepted,” Sapsford said.

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There will be a speed limit discussion in Edmonton on Feb. 26, as part of the Community and Public Services Committee meeting.

Paquette encourages residents to sign up to voice their opinion.