On Monday night, city council endorsed a staff report that recommends reducing all school zone speed limits to 40 kilometres per hour (km/h) or 30 km/h, depending on the street.
The proposal is part of the Road Safety Strategy as part of the city’s new Transportation Master Plan.
Currently, only eight of the 30 elementary and secondary school zones have a reduced limit, the report notes.
The staff report notes a peer review of other municipalities’ current school area practices revealed that most have, or are moving toward, a citywide approach of full-time speed reductions, including 40 km/h limits on major roads fronting schools, 40 km/h limits on local neighbouring roads surrounding a school, and 30 km/h speed limits on roads fronting schools within neighbourhoods.
City councillors were in full support of the proposed change.
“This is long overdue,” said Ward 1 (Otonabee) Coun. Kevin Duguay. “We consider some of our school locations, they happen to be on semi-major roads — almost all of them are on collector streets or in some cases on arterial roads and automatically dealing with competing traffic.”
The change would require up to 400 new signs, costing approximately $300,000.
“No, signs won’t solve everything but it’s a beginning,” said Ward 3 (Town) Coun. Joy Lachia.
The city has also selected five school zones — one in each ward — to undergo road safety treatments, which include new pavement markings and speed feedback signs for motorists:
- St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School on Otonabee Drive
- Edmison Heights Public School on Royal Drive
- École secondaire catholique Monseigneur-Jamot on Woodglade Boulevard
- St. Alphonus Catholic Elementary School on St. Marys Street
- Keith Wightman Public School on St. Marys Street
- Queen Mary Public School on Monaghan Road
These school zones would act as a pilot project starting in September before expanding to the remaining 25 school zones in Peterborough — a $625,000 project.
Although both recommendations received unanimous approval during Monday’s general committee meeting, there were some concerns.
Coun. Lesley Parnell says the primary one is enforcement, noting two school zones in her Ward 1 endure consistent speeding by motorists.
“I already have the flashing lights, 40 kilometres an hour, and it is still a speedway so enforcement is going to be the key,” she said.
The report says each school area can also be designated a “community safety zone,” which would lead to increased fines for speeding. There could also be photo radar enforcement added in the future.
“In terms of traffic management, it is expected that changing speed limit signs alone is not sufficient to affect overall driver behaviour,” the report notes. “Driver awareness is key to modifying driver behaviour and may be achieved by education through the media; altering the road environment through implementing traffic engineering measures; and supporting the posted speed limit through enforcement.”
Council is expected to ratify the recommendations at its next meeting on June 26.
— with files from Sam Houpt/Global News Peterborough