City of Calgary revamping street design process to calm traffic

·2 min read
Part of the traffic calming revamp would involve a reduction of the speed limit to 30 km/h on certain streets. (Martti Tulenheimo/Flickr - image credit)
Part of the traffic calming revamp would involve a reduction of the speed limit to 30 km/h on certain streets. (Martti Tulenheimo/Flickr - image credit)

The City of Calgary is looking beyond its traffic calming policy to give communities more options for slowing down speeding traffic in their neighbourhoods.

In a report by city staff presented to the infrastructure and planning committee Friday, the potential plan considers replacing the traffic calming policy with a new neighbourhood streets policy.

Beyond speed humps and curb extensions as ways of slowing traffic, the new plan includes making streets more cycle-friendly. As well, the City wants to encourage art, temporary uses like block parties, and other ways of building community on side streets.

This change is focused on what's known as a complete streets approach where all road users are taken into account from pedestrians to transit users to drivers rather than being so automobile-focused in the current traffic calming program, according to Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, who chairs the city's infrastructure committee.

"You would petition for the right to get your neighborhood streets calmed and the way we used to do it is there was like we could do two neighbourhoods a year," he said.

"We have like 150 neighbourhoods – everybody wanted it – and so you'd find yourself on a waiting list and maybe be 75 years down the line."

Leslie Evans with the Federation of Calgary Communities told a city council committee today she supports the new policy.

"There's a lot of work still to be done around our roads and around kind of that balance or that sharing of that public realm space where cars and bikes and other forms of mobility are all trying to get somewhere," she said.

Neighbourhoods waiting decades for traffic calming

The traffic calming policy goes back nearly 20 years but many communities are still waiting for measures to be taken on their streets. City council will debate the new policy at its meeting in early July.

Carra said unlike in decades past, there's a new recognition that doing things that result in drivers slowing down helps make streets safer and more livable for local residents.

"We're got a whole suite of new tools that we deploy in that regard," he said.

"Some of which are big infrastructure projects that are deployed by the city, some of which are temporary measures which are deployed by the city and some of which are tactical things that communities can roll up their sleeves and do with things like the ActivateYYC grants."

The idea behind the new policy is to make quiet neighbourhood streets a 30 km/h design environment. When traffic gets to collector streets, designs will incorporate elements to separate the different pedestrian, cyclist and automobile users, Carra said.

"This is about retrofitting. This is about tactical urbanism. This is about the idea that our city streets are for all users and our neighbourhood streets are low speed environments where everyone is welcome to mingle safely."

Council will vote on the new policy in July.

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