Council puts the brakes on city-wide speed limit reduction, seeks more information

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Windsor city council halted a city-wide speed limit reduction at its Monday council meeting, requesting more information on the measure before approval.

On Oct. 21, the environment, transportation and public safety committee voted to propose a 40 km/h speed limit at the next city council meeting and only place 50 km/h on major roads.

Four councillors sit on the committee and all voted in favour of the recommendation except for Ward 1 Coun. Fred Francis who said he wasn't convinced the lower limit would change the way people drive.

During the city's virtual meeting Monday, councillors agreed to refer this recommendation back to administration and have them create a report.

The report will look at speed limit reductions, "in addition to speed bumps and any other traffic-calming measures that make sense that city council can consider in a fulsome way as opposed to dealing with speed limits as a one-off item," said Mayor Drew Dilkens.

"I'm just concerned from a public policy perspective that we're not dealing with everything we should be dealing with and we have the opportunity to put more information in front of city council ... and looking at what the impacts would be."

Dilkens said he'd also like to see information on other cities that have implemented a reduced speed limit.

Committee selected option 2

During the standing committee meeting last month, city staff laid out three options council could pursue in order to reduce speed limits.

Option 1 involves keeping the default city speed limit at 50 km/h, lowering speed limits to 40 km/h on residential streets while installing signs on those streets to indicate the lower limit.

Option 2 involves reducing the default speed limit city-wide to 40 km/h, while select major roads will remain at 50 km/h and have signs indicating that.

Option 3 involves keeping the default city speed limit at 50 km/h, and creating 40 km/h "speed areas" in residential neighbourhoods, with fewer signs than Option 1.

The cost of implementing each option varies. The report estimates that Option 1 and Option 3 would cost just over $1 million each, with yearly maintenance costs coming in at $69,000 and $60,000 respectively. Option 2 would be significantly cheaper, both in terms of initial cost at $734,000 and maintenance costs at $39,000 yearly.

The time required to implement each option differs as well, with Option 1 and Option 3 taking 6 months minimum, while Option 2 would take two years minimum.

Ultimately the committee chose Option 2.

The report notes that whatever option the city chooses, or none at all, lowering speed limits alone is unlikely to cure drivers' lead feet.

"In general, most research has found that reducing speed limits, in and of itself, does not cause significant changes in operating speeds," it reads.

It says the speed limit changes would need to be part of a broader strategy to bring driving speeds down. Options on that front include redesigning streets, installing speed bumps, and/or greater police enforcement.

"Reductions in operating speeds have a clearly demonstrated safety benefit, both in terms of reducing the likelihood of collisions as well as the severity of collisions that do occur," the report reads.

The new report, requested by council Monday, is expected within 120 days.