Proposal seeks to drop default speed limits on residential B.C. streets to 30 km/h

WATCH: A Vancouver city councillor is asking the provincial government to look into lowering the speed limits on all residential side streets across the province to 30 km/h. Paul Johnson reports.

Should B.C. lower unposted speed limits on residential streets to 30 kilometres per hour?

It’s an idea being promoted by Vancouver Green Party Coun. Pete Fry, who wants to see the province drop the default speed limit on local streets.

“Through the Motor Vehicle Act, the default speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour,” said Fry.

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“This motion seeks to ask the province to ask the default speed limit for residential side streets — so that’s a street without any centre line, the typical sort of neighbourhood streets — change that default to 30 kilometres per hour.”

Fry’s motion to council calls for the city to work through the Union of B.C. Municipalities to lobby for the change.

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He says communities could raise speed limits back up on a case-by-case basis, but under the proposal, cities wouldn’t need dedicated signage about the lower limits as they currently do in school or park zones.

The idea is part of the global Vision Zero movement that seeks to reduce pedestrian fatalities, and which Fry said would help encourage biking and walking.

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“The evidence tells us that the odds of surviving an impact by a vehicle if you are a pedestrian are significantly increased if you’re struck by a vehicle at 30 kilometres per hour versus 50 kilometres per hour,” he said.

Fry also rejected the idea that it would be a government intrusion on people’s lives, saying motorists could still drive fast on highways and arterials.

B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena was non-committal when asked about the idea.

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“Our engineers are always looking at speed limits and how to ensure that people are safe on our roads,” Trevena said.

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“A number of communities also want to see a reduction in speed limits; it’s something that we continue to assess. Safety has to come first, and we want to make sure that people, wherever they are living, are safe on our roads.”

Fry’s motion also asks Vancouver to develop a pilot 30 kilometre per hour speed limit pilot project “focused on mixed mode use, reduced speeds and complimentary road design with a mechanism to record and analyze before and after data.”

It calls for staff to identify an area in the city to run the demonstration along with a plan and budget to implement it by the third quarter of 2019.

Council will vote on the motion next Tuesday.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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