Edmonton to set target date for meeting goal of zero traffic deaths

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Edmonton to set target date for meeting goal of zero traffic deaths

The city should look at setting a hard target for when it can reach the goal of zero traffic deaths in Edmonton, Coun. Andrew Knack said Friday.

The community and public services committee was told there were 22 traffic deaths in 2016, down from 30 in 2015.

If Edmonton continues at its current pace of dropping death and injury rates slightly every year, as outlined in the Vision Zero annual report presented to the committee, the city would reach that hard target of zero in 2050, he said.

From his research, Knack said 115 cities with populations of 50,000 or more managed to achieve Vision Zero at least one year between 2009 and 2013.

"It's possible, even for a larger city," Knack said. "It takes more than probably what we're doing today if we want to get that achieved in 2030."

The effort to reach the goal more quickly will require changing road design and infrastructure dollars, he said.
Setting a target is possible, said Gord Cebryk, branch manager, parks and roads.

It will take a review of the data from all of the different components, or tools, that make up Vision Zero to identify a target, Cebryk said. A target could be included in the spring 2018 annual report from Vision Zero, he added.

One of the tools used by the city is photo radar.

The report said photo radar numbers were up last year, including 63,227 tickets for going between 6 and 10 kilometres per hour over the posted speed limit.

Online photo radar map coming in June

The city is in the process of developing an online map that would display the locations of photo radar, on a weekly basis, said Cebryk.

The map will not provide real-time data, so it won't indicate the specific day and time of the photo radar location.

It will provide information on average speeds when the automated enforcement first went in, and how those speeds have changed over time.

The goal is to have the map online by the end of June, said city staff. 

Photo radar is helping to reduce the number of speed-related collisions, city traffic officials told the committee, with fatality and serious injuries in problem areas dropping by roughly 20 per cent. 

There will still be "covert enforcement," Cebryk added.

A change to speed limits in neighbourhoods should be a focus for the city this year, said Coun. Dave Loken. "That's the natural next step."

He pointed to the success of reducing speed limits around schools, as cited in the report.

It found in the first year of operation, collisions involving pedestrians or cyclists were down by 71 per cent at 232 elementary schools with 30 km/h speed zones. Collisions causing injury were down 41 per cent. 

The city is planning to impose 30 km/h zones around junior high schools this year.

"The trend lines are moving in the right direction," said Mayor Don Iveson. "The report shows we're making progress."

The mayor said he's in favour of setting a hard target for the city to reach the goal of zero traffic deaths.
"Twenty-two deaths is still way too many," said Iveson.

Private company wants to get involved

Safety is a priority for Lafarge, and the construction-materials supplier believes it can play a role in supporting the work of Vision Zero, Lafarge Canada vice-president Bruce Willmer told the committee.

The company could collaborate with the city by providing feeds from its concrete trucks to the city, as another data collection tool, he said.

Lafarge would also like to explore the option of having its onboard technology receive information from traffic signals so its truck drivers could adjust their speed of travel to catch a green light, Willmer said.

On any given day, Lafarge has dozens of trucks on Edmonton and area streets, he added.

The company's trucks have in-cab cameras, as well as interactive GPS technology that sends an alert email to the head office when drivers are speeding, braking hard or hard cornering, said Willmer.

"The idea behind it is to coach our drivers," he said. "It's about driver improvement."

Together with this technology, the company initiated a policy in January 2016 to have all drivers travel 10 km/h under the speed limit, he said.

There was pushback from drivers whose pay is performance-based, but Willmer said their data shows  there was no real difference in delivery times and cost since that change was implemented.

"In fact, most of them are saying, 'Hey, I feel safer myself on the road,' " said Willmer.

A pedestrian was hit and killed by a Lafarge concrete truck in downtown Edmonton in January 2016.

In August 2012, a cyclist died after falling from his bicycle and being run over by a Lafarge concrete truck on Whyte Avenue.

The new technologies the company is using are defensive mechanisms to guard against such incidents, said Willmer.

The other component is public education and that's why the company wants to partner with Vision Zero, he said —  "trying to get the word out and demonstrate the dangers around trucks the size that we drive."

There's a "lack of respect" from pedestrians and cyclists for these vehicles, and they need to understand they are not always seen by the truck drivers, he added.

"We can do all we can with the trucks and the equipment and the driver training but we still need the general public to understand the risks around large equipment."