City of Edmonton inches closer to lower limits on local roads

City of Edmonton inches closer to lower limits on local roads

The City of Edmonton is inching closer to reducing speeds on residential streets.

The community and public services committee on Wednesday debated the pros and cons of lowering the limit from the current 50 km/h to either 30 or 40 km/h on residential roads and agreed to revisit the issue at a council meeting next week. 

Andrew Knack, who supports a 30 km/h limit on all residential roads, said it was good to hear a common theme from the community and councillors. 

"People are frustrated because there is no consistency on the streets," he said. "Whether people loved the idea of slower local roads or not, almost everyone agreed with the fact that, yeah, it's just not consistent enough right now."

Knack also calls for a 60 km/h limit on all main arterial roads.

Mayor Don Iveson is a fan of 30 km/h, at least in mature neighbourhoods with narrow roads. 

"I would like a consistent one-size-fits-all answer to that, city wide, for ease of interpretation and enforcement," Iveson said. "But the conditions do vary around the city."

The city is aiming for consistency and also to change the culture, said Gord Cebryk, the acting deputy manager with city operations.

"Because that's really what we're doing is, we're trying to place more emphasis on lower speeds and more accessibility and livability for pedestrians," he said.

Divided response

The city canvassed people around LRT stations, at malls, gyms, recreation centres and libraries and found 72 per cent of respondents support a lower speed limit on neighbourhood roads.

Of the 676 people surveyed last fall and early this year, those supporting a lower limit lived in new and mature communities or were coming in and out of places like daycare centres, sports and recreation facilities and businesses that rely on foot traffic.

People who don't favour a reduction identified themselves as drivers. They "firmly believe Edmonton is and should remain a city built for cars," the city report said.

Those respondents said they think designated crosswalks and more police enforcement would increase safety.

Eighty communities have requested traffic safety improvements, mainly about short-cutting and speed, said Cebryk.

The committee agreed to revisit the speed limit debate at a council meeting next week, at which time Knack and Coun. Tim Cartmell plan to put forward motions on the plan to revise Edmonton's speed limits.