In an effort to reduce collisions, injuries and death in residential areas, city council’s transportation committee has approved a plan to drop Calgary’s default speed limit to 40 kilometres an hour.
After two years of work, city administration is proposing how to reduce speed limits. Council members say it’s a response to the concerns of Calgarians about speeding on side streets.
Administration wants to drop the unposted speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h on most residential streets.
However, it said because that speed limit wouldn’t be credible with most drivers on busier collector streets, there should be a posted limit of 50 km/h on those roads.
Collectors are typically streets that have a yellow line, or a bus route.
The committee voted 7-3 in favour of the plan.
Officials said it would cost $2.3 million to post new 50 km/h signs on collector streets as well as signage about the default speed limit on all roads entering Calgary.
The money would come from the city’s approved capital budget.
Asad Chaudhary was one of the people who spoke in favour of a lower speed limit during a public hearing held by the committee.
“This is a great first step,” said Chaudhary who lives on the city’s west side.
“This is important, because the person being hit could be my three-year-old walking to the playground with his grandmother.”
Several councillors said that speeding on residential streets was identified by many residents as their top issue during the last election.
Coun. Druh Farrell voted in favour of the proposal, saying that the city just isn’t moving as quickly on the traffic safety issue as many Calgarians would like.
“People are feeling an incredible amount of panic and concern for the safety of their families with the street right in front of their homes,” said Farrell.
Opponents pan idea
Not all councillors are on board though.
Former police officer Coun. Sean Chu is against the 40 km/h default speed limit proposal.
He suggested it should be left to Calgarians to decide in a plebiscite held during the municipal election in October 2021.
Coun. Jeromy Farkas said council should be concentrating on bigger issues like the state of the economy, recovering from the pandemic and getting control of the city’s budget.
“Making the city a playground zone, that has to be the silliest idea I’ve ever heard,” said the Ward 11 councillor.
He made an effort to delay voting on the proposal until after next year’s election, but that idea was rejected.
Councillor calls it reasonable
Committee chair Coun. Jeff Davison said the majority of his colleagues feel the proposal is something that will be accepted by Calgarians.
He rejects the criticism from Farkas.
“For those who want to say this about creating playground zones throughout the city, I would highly suggest they go and educate themselves on what a playground is,” said Davison.
“This is not that. This is about slowing down residential speed to a reasonable level.”
The city has posted online maps of the streets that would be affected by the lower speed limit.
With the committee’s endorsement, the matter will go to a city council meeting next month for a vote.
If approved, administration is recommending the new speed limit become law on April 4, 2021.