Calgary councillors propose residential speed limit of 30 km/h

WATCH: 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.

A group of Calgary city councillors want the speed limit in residential neighbourhoods reduced to 30 km/h from 50 in the name of safety.

“An international emerging best practice over the past seven years has been to take the speed limit down on quieter residential streets to 30 km/h,” Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said Tuesday.

“Everything we’ve been doing in terms of local area planning is working in that direction. Our Step Forward pedestrian strategy discussed the need to move in that direction.

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“And with this new council and with the city charter, which allows the City of Calgary to set its own default municipal speed limits, we have the ability to do that now.”

Tabled by Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell, the notice of motion would have city council implement the city-wide reduced speed limits on neighbourhood streets with an implementation plan and roadways map by the end of 2019.

“Calgarians want safer streets,” Farrell said in a statement, “and reducing neighborhood speed limits is an important part of the equation. Considering the $120 million annual societal cost of pedestrian-involved collisions, this is a sensible investment in making walking safer.”

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According to the World Health Organization, pedestrians are 90 per cent likely to survive when hit by an automobile going 30 km/h. That survivability rate drops to 60 per cent at 40 km/h and less than 20 per cent at 50 km/h. The WHO also reports that reaction and braking distances increase as speeds increase, increasing the likelihood of collisions.

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“The science is very clear that it is the right thing to do,” Carra said. “And the negative impacts to people travelling is very minimal as long as we contain that to the residential units. So that’s what we are proposing to do.”

Carra also said changing the speed limit isn’t the end of making roads safer for pedestrians, citing a paradigm shift in road planning.

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“The old-school approach was to create a design speed for a road that was higher than the posted speed limit because they wanted to give people wiggle room. What we now understand is that speed kills and people drive as fast as they feel comfortable. So if you make a street where you’re comfortable driving at 70 km/h and you set the speed at 50 km/h, people drive at 70 km/h.”

WATCH BELOW: A group of Calgary councillors are pushing for drivers to ease off the gas pedal and slow down on residential roads. The city is set to debate dropping the speed limit from 50 km/h to 30 km/h. Blake Lough reports.

“What we do know is we have to set the speed limit lower and then we have to follow that up with a generational project of neighbourhood street redesign so that 30km/h is the designed speed of these roads.”

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Councillors Farrell, Carra, Jeff Davison, Evan Woolley, Ray Jones, George Chahal and Mayor Naheed Nenshi have sponsored the motion, which is due to be debated at the Sep. 10 city council meeting.

“We have seven names on the notice of motion,” Carra said, “We’ve done a lot of work with the other members of council, and I’m expecting a positive result.”

— with files from Aurelio Perri and Lauren Pullen

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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