People routinely ask for reduced speed limits within neighbourhoods and refer to other communities that have lowered speeds to 40 km/hour. People believe that speed kills and those vulnerable road users including pedestrians (seniors and children in particular) as well as cyclists are at risk of injury. They are right, according to City transportation information, “the likelihood of survival in a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian is approximately 15 per cent when the vehicle is travelling at 50 km/h. However, the likelihood of survival increases to 75 per cent when the vehicle is travelling at 40 km/h or below.”
The City is trying some lower speed limits within a few residential neighbourhoods until spring 2021 (Eastbridge, Old Abby and Westvale). The signage will be posted and the lower limits will come into effect in July 2020.
It is fascinating to me that comments on the idea do not centre on supporting a behavioural change, personal leadership or a willingness to adhere to the lower speed. Rather, the comments are about spending “tax dollars” related to “forcing” compliance through street redesign, installation of traffic calming devices and/or police enforcement.
In addition to costing money, these ideas are poor ones. Street redesign takes years to study, communicate with the neighbourhood, design, and install. Most traffic calming creates horrible backlash from those who want the traffic calmed, but do not want on-street parking removed in front of their homes or their lands (City easement) used for a roundabout or the pedestrian refuge island blocking their driveway access.
Information around speed bumps say they increase traffic noise, can damage vehicles and they slow first responders. Imagine if your loved one is having a heart attack or your house is on fire. According to the October 16, 2017 today.com article by Jeff Rossen and Josh Davis “Research shows that 30 years ago, you had about 17 minutes to escape a house fire. Today it is down to three or four minutes. The reason: Newer homes and the furniture inside them actually burn faster. A lot faster.”
Do people really believe police traffic enforcement is our #1 issue in the Region? Geez whiz folks, people are dying from drug overdoses! Further, a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says Waterloo Region is the least safe major city for women to live in Canada.
If you want to help keep taxes at or below inflation rates, if you want to support police services to be delivered where they are needed and if you want to see traffic speeds reduced in your neighbourhood then simply take your foot off the gas.