British Columbia

30 km/h on neighbourhood streets in Vancouver? City councillor calls for a pilot project testing the idea

Local roads are defined as those with no centre line, and Fry believes there's no reason people should be driving 50 km/h on them in the first place, arguing it poses a risk to pedestrians and cyclists.  

The default limit in municipalities is 50 km/h, but some have argued the province should lower it

The City of Vancouver already has some areas with 30 km/h speed limits, but under the rules of the Motor Vehicle Act they have to be labelled. (Google Streetview)

A Vancouver councillor wants the default speed limit on local roads to be reduced from 50 km/h to 30. 

"It's something that we've been talking about for awhile and it's really just time to put it into action," said Green Party Coun. Pete Fry. 

He's submitted a motion for the April 23 meeting that would direct staff to develop a pilot zone for a 30 km/h area or street in Vancouver, with details on the location and road design changes in place by September. 

Local roads are defined as those with no centre line, and Fry believes there's no reason people should be driving 50 km/h on them in the first place, arguing it poses a risk to pedestrians and cyclists.  

"The evidence out there that if one is hit by a car at 50 km an hour. they have a better than 90 per cent chance of significant injury or death, and that's greatly reduced if we reduce the speeds to 30 kilometres an hour," he said. 

"We've had a couple of pedestrian fatalities so far this year. We shouldn't have any."

Green Party Coun. Pete Fry, who put forward the motion, says there's a worldwide trend to lowering speed limits in residential areas. (Cliff Shim/CBC)

Provincial jurisdiction 

Under the province's Motor Vehicle Act, the default speed limit within municipalities is 50 km/h (except for school zones, which are 30 km/h), but cities can lower limits if they have proper signage, as Vancouver does for a stretch of Hastings Street on the Downtown Eastside. 

"The big challenge is that if we wanted to do this in the City of Vancouver, we would literally have to put a 30 kilometre sign on every single block of every single street, which would be prohibitively expensive," said Fry. 

It's why Fry is only asking for a pilot project in Vancouver, while simultaneously requesting the council submit a resolution to the Union of BC Municipalities asking it to lobby for a provincewide change, calling it "the big ask."

In 2016, then-provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall said reducing speed limits from 50 to 30 kilometres an hour was an effective ways to reduce pedestrian and cyclist fatalities — and Vancouver and New Westminster are among the municipalities that have adopted 30 kilometre zones along their bike route networks. 

But to date, the province has not shown an interest in changing the default limit. Fry hopes his motion will kickstart a new debate. 

"The challenge for me has been that we've been having this conversation for a long time. We haven't made a lot of headway," he said. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.