Edmonton councillors to debate neighbourhood and playground speed zones

Edmonton city councillors could be looking to put the brakes on speeders in neighbourhoods when they deal with two separate reports at committee meetings next week.

Two separate reports on expanding reduced speed zones in Edmonton to be discussed next week

The City of Edmonton implemented school speed zones in 2014. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC)

Edmonton city councillors will be asked to put the brakes on speeders when they deal with two separate reports at committee meetings next week.

One report recommends speed limits in all residential neighbourhoods be set at 40 km/h.

A second report recommends a 30 km/h speed zone around all playgrounds.

Playground speed zones

Reducing speeds around playgrounds is a "step in the logical direction," said Kurt Borth, a Lendrum resident who has been advocating for reduced speed zones.

"The idea that once school is over that no one is there just seems silly to me," said Borth. "It really is a good policy change."

There are 178 stand-alone playgrounds in the city that have no speed reduction in place, according to a report released Thursday.

There are 194 playgrounds adjacent to schools, and the report recommended that the school-zone speed limit be extended to cover those beyond school operating hours.

The report said that implementing school speed zones has reduced injury collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists by 71 per cent in those areas, and average speeds have dropped by 12 km/h.

In preparation for the 2017-2018 school year, the city will expand school speed zones to include junior highs. 

The report suggested that may be a good time for the city to also include playgrounds.

The community services committee is expected to discuss playground report and recommendations at a meeting on June 8.

Neighbourhood speed zones

Borth thinks speed zones in neighbourhoods should be reduced to 30 km/h, the same as playgrounds.

"Obviously 40 is better than 50, but the research does show that 30 reduces accidents, it reduces fatalities," he said.

The city initiated a pilot project in 2010 to reduce the posted speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h within the communities of Woodcroft, Ottewell and King Edward Park.

It would be better if it was 30 (km/h) for residential streets.- Kurt Borth, Lendrum resident

The report said residential roads are divided into two types, collector roads and local roads.

Collector roads connect with major arterial roads. Some are also bus routes. Local roads usually have less traffic volume, the report said.

The report said a majority of respondents to a survey done by Banister Research and Consulting Inc. in March 2017 believe speeding in residential areas is an important issue to address.

An online survey done by the city in 2016 found that a significant number of residents regularly drive six to 10 km/h over the posted limit.

If councillors support a reduced speed limit on local roads, the report said, a majority of the public would be in favour.

"The amount of time you save going 50 versus 40 really is miniscule at the end of the trip," said Borth.

"It's great news that we're going to go down, but it would be better if it was 30 for residential streets."

The report and recommendations about residential streets will come before the urban planning committee on June 7.