Safer Streets for Calgarians – Let’s Continue the Conversation

This past Monday I introduced a Notice of Motion to address residential traffic concerns.  In November of 2014 the Calgary Police Service (CPS) and the Calgary Police Commission (CPC) suggested that a program could be implemented that utilized senior personnel from the cadet program to provide residential traffic enforcement.  As a result of this motion CPC will be revisiting this program and identify how and when it could be implemented.  The CPC report will come back to Council in September.

I am encouraged that this motion will create a broader public debate on making our streets safer for all Calgarians.  I am grateful for the tremendous feedback, both positive and negative, that my office has received from Calgarians this week in response to my motion.  Calgarians have also provided some alternatives to increased enforcement, specifically the utilization of speed bumps and four-way stops in residential areas.

Streets

It is important to note that design of a community plays a key role in determining what is most appropriate to control residential traffic.  The application of speed bumps and four-way stops may not be a universal solution in every community.  We have had a number of studies done in Ward 12 on residential traffic, and the Roads and Fire Departments have offered some interesting perspectives on speed bumps and four-way stops:

  • Noise studies show that speed bumps dramatically increase noise pollution in residential zones. Instead of maintaining a steady speed, vehicles will rev their engines immediately after the bump.
  • Speed bumps are conducive to stop and start traffic. Vehicles approaching the bump and will often slow down abruptly impacting the traffic behind them.  The same is true in areas that have a series of four-way stops.
  • Speed bumps are often utilized in a series as opposed to singles. Vehicles will slow down for the bumps, but increase speed in between to make up time.  The same is true in areas that have a series of four-way stops.
  • Four-way stops can cause significant problems during rush hour periods. All vehicles on main roadways and side roads need to stop.  This causes major backlogs on the main roadway, and very little backlog on seldom used side roads.  If there are a series of four-way stops, this issue can be compounded.

Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians have a shared responsibility to make our roadways safer.  The purpose of this motion was not to demonize motorists or reduce speed limits across the City.  If motorists, cyclist and pedestrians adhere to the traffic rules in place we can ensure that our residential areas are safer for all.

Here are some important facts to consider when we discuss residential traffic:

  • Per km there are 2.5 times as many collisions on roadways with a 30km/h speed limit as compared to roadways with 50km/h speed limit. This is likely due to a higher concentration of pedestrians and children who may be less experienced interacting with traffic.
  • A pedestrian only has a 20% chance of surviving being hit by a vehicle at 50 km/h. When a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle at 30 km/h their chance of survival jumps to 90%.
  • Vehicles traveling at 30km/h can get through a 100 metre school or playground zone in just 4 seconds longer than a vehicle traveling at 50 km/h. This 4 second increase in travel time increases a pedestrian’s chance of survival by 70%.

Residents contact our office about a number of issues every single day.  Residential traffic is by far the top issue that we hear about.  I suspect if you ask Calgary Police Service and the other Councillors, they will likely tell you the same.  Whether it is the cadet program or some other method, we need to find a solution to keep our streets safe for all users.  Safer streets for all Calgarians; let’s continue the conversation.