Citizen group Liveable Streets Edmonton is proposing the creation of a ‘slow zone’ in the core of the city that would see traffic calming measures and a 30 km/h speed limit on local roads combined to create safer streets. TROY PAVLEK.
A citizen-led proposal for a slow speed zone in the city core turned some heads on city council Wednesday.“I think you may have struck upon a way to get past this impasse,” Ward 9 Coun. Tim Cartmell said after more than one dozen people showed up at a committee meeting to voice support for introducing 30 km/h speed limits and accompanying traffic calming measures for residential roads in the so-called “core zone”.The “impasse” — a debate over just how fast vehicles should be allowed to travel on local roads —has been controversial for city council for years. Last month, the four councillors who sit on the community and public services committee voted for a recommendation to lower residential speed limits to 40 km/h from 50 km/h.But that isn’t good enough, according to Liveable Streets Edmonton, a group that quickly pulled together the slow-zone plan so it could present it to committee ahead of city council voting on the bylaw next week.“We’re not getting anywhere closer to Vision Zero at 40 km/h. The evidence worldwide shows 30 km/h saves lives,” Liveable Edmonton’s Julie Kusiek said following the meeting.Collector roads (often identified as streets where bus routes run) have a limit of 40 km/h. The speed on arterials, like 109 Street or Whyte Avenue, would remain untouched.The so-called core zone would extend from 118 Avenue to the north down to 61 Avenue and Argyll Road to the south, and from 75 Street in the east to 142 Street in the west.Kusiek said the area was chosen so the city can focus on getting it right before considering expanding to rest of the city, and also because it largely avoids the wards with wide and winding suburban roads.There would also be road design changes to make streets feel like a place one should driver slower, using everything from raised crosswalks to paint and bollards to extend curbs to slow down turning vehicles.Ward 1 Coun. Andrew Knack said the core proposal is better than nothing, but he’d prefer to see consistency in speeds across the city. Still, he said the city has to act because of all the neighbourhoods who have had their serious road safety concerns put on hold while council tries to sort out the speed issue.More than 100 communities have requests in with the city’s traffic safety department to address local traffic concerns, with only 35 currently being considered in a 10-year neighbourhood renewal program.“It’s going to be challenging no matter the approach, but simply sticking with the status quo, and not having any conversations about speed limits, is going to leave all of those communities who have been waiting, and all of those residents who have those issues today, frustrated and angry,” Knack said.Ward 5 Coun. Sarah Hamilton said she thinks the zone’s boundaries need some refining, but that it would be an “ideal” way to start piloting a 30 km/h speed limit. But she does think that different types of communities — suburban, winding roads versus narrow streets on a grid — have different needs.Committee voted to send the core zone to city council’s Tuesday meeting so it can be debated along with a proposal for a blanket reduction to 40 km/h on local roads email@example.com/paigeeparsons