Edmonton

Edmonton communities to push province for lower speed limits

Four pedestrians have been killed crossing city streets this year. Now the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues wants the province to lower speed limits on residential streets across Alberta.

Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues wants the province to lower speed limits on residential streets

The Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues wants the province to lower speed limits on residential streets across Alberta. (CBC)

The idea of lower speeds for Edmonton's residential streets is back on the radar.

Though the idea was tried locally several years ago as a pilot project in six neighbourhoods, now the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues wants the province to lower speed limits on residential streets across Alberta.

The move comes at a time when pedestrian safety is on many minds.

Four people were killed crossing Edmonton streets already this year. On Monday, a 27-year-old man was struck and seriously injured in the west end.

"We'd like to see residential streets made a little safer," said Allan Bolstad, executive director of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues. "And one of the quickest and easiest ways we can think of to do that is to lower the speed limit to 40 km/h on all the residential roads."

'That's what's driving people crazy'

Bolstad told CBC's Edmonton AM there has been growing concern among federation members about shortcutting through residential neighbourhoods.

"And of course when people shortcut, they want to speed," he said. "They're trying to save time. That's what's driving people crazy, and they're looking for solutions."

When Edmonton adopted a pilot project to lower limits in six neighbourhoods several years ago, the city had to post signs on virtually every block, Bolstad said. That cost a lot of money and caused backlash against the idea.

The simplest solution, he said, would be to lobby the province to change legislation that requires speed limits on all roads to be 50 km/h, unless otherwise marked.

If that legislation was rewritten, cities would be free to lower the default limit to 40 km/h.

"These residential streets just aren't designed to travel 50 or 55 km/h on them," Bolstad said. "So it's time, we feel, that we acknowledged that."

The change would only happen on residential streets, Bolstad said. Arterial roads and commuter roads would keep the speed limits they currently have.

Once drivers become accustomed to the changes, lower speeds would become the norm. New standards would reinforce the idea in drivers' minds that they have to slow down on residential streets.

Won't hurt traffic flow

Slower speeds wouldn't hurt traffic flow, he said, since most drivers traveling longer distances would still use main roads or freeways.

The federation hasn't yet raised the issue with the provincial government.

But Bolstad thinks people across the province would support the idea.

"It sure feels different this time than it did four years ago," he said. "There's just a lot more interest.

"We're getting calls from other communities. I had a couple of calls from Calgary yesterday. There are groups down there that are pushing in the same direction. I just get the feeling this might go somewhere."

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