Speed limits in Calgary’s residential neighbourhoods are set to drop by 10 km/h, but some Calgarians hoping for that reduction on their street will be out of luck when the new rules take effect on May 31.
In February, city council voted to reduce the current default speed limit of 50 km/h to 40 km/h in an effort to reduce collisions with severe outcomes like injury and death on residential streets.
As part of the change, the city has begun posting a speed limit of 50 km/h on collector roads throughout Calgary neighbourhoods.
Collector roads are described by the city as roads that connect smaller residential streets to arterial roads and often have a yellow line divider or a bus route.
But Ebony Heffernan’s street in Auburn Bay has neither a bus route nor a yellow line, and it has been designated a collector road with a speed limit posted at 50km/h.
“It’s really not safe for many of these streets that have been labelled as a collector street,” Heffernan told Global News. “Even if that may be true, it doesn’t mean the speed limit should be posted to 50.”
Heffernan, who has a young child, said she was excited to hear that the speed limits would be reduced in her neighbourhood. She hoped the reduced speed would slow traffic on the street in front of her home.
“There’s not a lot of the safety features that are built into what they call a collector street on our street,” Heffernan said. “Oddly enough, when the signs went up I noticed people are keeping up to that speed limit or going above it.”
Heffernan said she has written to her city councillor, Ward 12 representative Shane Keating, and has contacted 311 about the issue.
However, city officials said the speed limit on collector roads hasn’t changed since the signs were posted.
In a statement to Global News, the City of Calgary said several factors are considered to determine if a collector road would have a speed limit of 40 km/h including average speed, road length, and whether traffic calming measures were installed.
According to city officials, administration is expected to present a report to city council in the third quarter of this year with a process and criteria needed to be in place to lower speed limits on streets designated as collector roads.
“The more data that’s gathered over the year, then we’ll be able to readjust it in a year or two years and say these roads could certainly be down to 40km/h,” Keating said. “The last thing we want to do is, for those who think that they should be driving as fast as they can and being unsafe, to start cutting through and causing problems elsewhere.”
Signs have been posted around the city notifying drivers of the incoming default speed limit change.
City officials anticipate the move will cost $2.3 million, but result in $8.1 million in savings in what are referred to as societal costs; a cumulative price tag for crashes including property damage or lost salaries for those who miss work due to an injury sustained in a crash.
However, Heffernan hopes city officials take a look at her street sooner rather than later.
“We really want to be proactive and get ahead of it and make sure we can keep the speeds controllable instead of waiting until its too late and somebody suffers and injury or worse,” Heffernan said.