Safer Streets for Pedestrians and Motorists

One of the most common concerns my office receives from constituents are about traffic safety.

I consider the right for residents, (which include pedestrians and motorists) to feel safe on their streets priority number one.

Always has been, always will be.

You might remember when I worked to introduce the implementation of Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons.

This isn’t a new issue, the 2016 Pedestrian Strategy’s What We Heard Engagement Report (found here) mentioned the public’s desire to decrease speed limits in residential areas and increase speed limit enforcement.

Residential Safety Strategies enable us to move forward in high-risk residential areas, utilize citizen feedback and place emphasis on better public awareness. It’s clear that residents have expressed feelings of fear and discomfort of the speed of vehicles traveling along their street.

On average there are…

  • 36,600 motor vehicle collisions occur on Calgary streets
  • 9,100 collisions per year on streets inside Calgary neighbourhoods
  • 550 of them resulting in serious injury or death. (25% of all collisions)
  • Over $120 Million societal and personal costs of pedestrian-involved collisions in Calgary per year

We really need to zero in on why this makes such a difference to pedestrians, and it also makes a positive impact on motorists as well.

More than half of these serious injuries are experienced by drivers and passengers inside vehicles.

Administration has concluded that changing the unposted speed limit to 40 km/h while posting (for the time being) most Collector roadways at 50 km/h, represents an important first step towards reducing the frequency and severity of collisions and enhancing the livability of our neighbourhoods.

Under the City Charter, Council can make this change through bylaw.

The recommendations that will be presented to SPC on Transportation and Transit include:

  • Changing the unposted speed limit in Calgary from 50 km/h to 40 km/h
  • To post a 50 km/h speed limit on most Collector roadways
  • To update City of Calgary design standards so that new communities and road retrofit projects lead to roadways where it will make sense to post residential roads at 30 km/h and collector roads at 40 km/h
It is important to note the recommendations that are being put forward would only apply to residential and collector roads. There are no proposed changes to playground zones or higher classification roads
Here is a map of the proposed road in our ward. Please keep in mind this is a preliminary concept, and is subject to change

In principle, I am supportive of lowering speed limits. The data I have seen makes a compelling argument for why this is the right thing to do:

•Pedestrians are 90% more likely to survive when struck by automobiles travelling at 30km/h, 60% at 40km/h, and less than 20% at 50km/h.

•The time it takes to stop on dry pavement doubles between 30km/h (13M) and 40km/h (27M).

•83% of casualty collisions involving pedestrians aged 12 and under occur on local (26%) and collector (57%) roadways.

As the saying goes, and we’ve all heard this. Speed kills.

At lower speeds we not only reduce the chance of a collision happening, we mitigate the impacts when a collision does occur.

There is a threat in remaining complacent, and as Calgarians we owe it to our city to always strive to do better. Especially when it comes to safety. We shouldn’t say “to heck with it” just because something is acceptable. We need to continue to ask “How can we do better?”

If you’re worried about the potential impact this may have on time, worry not.

The time added to your commute would be absolutely minimal. Especially seeing how the average trip includes less than 1 km of travel through residential roads. By moving from 50km/h to 40km/h, the impact would be under two minutes. That’s less time than it takes for my coffee maker to heat up.

You can even calculate your eta here:  https://www.etatool.com/

One important factor that was somewhat glossed over, was the effect of this speed reduction on Calgary Transit. I was told every bus goes the speed limits, or under. Meaning most buses drive under 50 km/h today. In fact most routes are on collector roads. That being said, the impact on Calgary Transit would be minimal. 

In order for this to be a success, we need to have proper enforcement. How can we expect folks to go slower if we are not consistently enforcing the speed limits as they currently stand?

While we often hear about the photo radar being nothing but a cash cow, there’s an easy solution. Don’t speed.

I’m also quite sure that those who complain about photo radar on a regular basis, are the ones speeding on a regular basis.

Another easy solution to the difficulty of having manned personal conducting increased enforcement. Technology.

I think the best way to circumvent potential enforcement costs is to lean heavily on electronic enforcement. We have a number of avenues available to us, permanent mounted cameras for one. My belief is that they would do the same as physical barriers. If people know a camera is there, they slow down.

And for those saying this is a simple cash-grab, let me be clear. If you are caught speeding in a residential zone, you are going to be fined.

Seeing as the City of Calgary receives no funds from fines, I am still quite sure that Calgary police service and the Provincial Government would rather you make your financial contributions in a less potentially dangerous way.

I think we have made some positive progress with traffic safety, there’s still more we could be doing; and this Neighbourhood Speed Limit Review is a good step forward in making our residential streets safe for pedestrians, and motorists.