68 of 163 standalone playground speed zones may not be necessary, city staff find

68 of 163 standalone playground speed zones may not be necessary, city staff find

More than 40 per cent of Edmonton's standalone playground speed zones — where motorists must slow to 30 km/h — may not be necessary, according to a review by city staff.

A report going to council's community and public services committee Wednesday considers the city's 163 standalone playgrounds — ones that are not connected to schools or school yards.

Of the total, 68 fell short of the Alberta government's guidelines for school and playground zones, as well as the city's more strict supplementary guidelines.

Based on the review, the speed limit along these 68 stretches of road could be changed from 30 km/h back to 50 km/h, according to the report.

Months of debate 

After a pilot project in 2014 that found having the lower speed limit at schools led to a marked decrease in collisions and injuries, the city began looking into expanding the strategy. 

In 2017, 406 playground zones were implemented across Edmonton, dropping the speed limit to 30 km/h between 7:30 a.m. and 9 p.m.

The move ignited controversy, with residents wondering why there were so many playground speed zones — and in some cases, so many of them so close together. 

New playground zones? 

Henderson, who represents Ward 8 on the city's south side, said there's another side to the issue. He has heard from constituents concerned that kids are gathering at places that don't qualify as playground speed zones.

"It's not, strictly speaking, a playground, but we need to have some protection," Henderson said. 

The report to community and public services includes a suggested request-based mechanism that city staff could use to review locations that residents think may or may not need to be playground zones.

"A one-size-fits-all just doesn't work when our city has been designed at different times and works in different ways," Henderson said. 

The request-based review system would also look at the Alberta guidelines and the city's supplementary guidelines, assessing factors such as the number of collisions involving children, traffic volume and surrounding land use.