Speed limits reduced in Côte-des-Neiges, starting today
Other traffic-calming measures, such as curb extensions, wider sidewalks to also be considered
Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce has begun reducing the speed limit on all residential streets to 30 km/h and on most arterial streets to 40 km/h, as part of a citywide push to slow down vehicular traffic in Montreal.
Signs marking the speed-limit reduction are already up in some areas of Côte-des-Neiges, and the rest will be installed gradually over the coming weeks, with new signs in place throughout the borough by the end of the year.
"Changing the signs is the first step," said Côte-des-Neiges district Coun. Magda Popeanu. "It's a huge issue. We don't want accidents on our streets in Côte-des-Neiges—NDG. We want, at the same time, for people to feel secure."
Starting today, the districts of Côte-des-Neiges, Darlington and Snowdon will see the change. In September, signs will begin going up in NDG and Loyola.
Some arterial roads will remain at 50 km/h. Those include Saint-Jacques Street, Côte-Saint-Luc Road, Décarie Boulevard (service roads only), Jean-Talon Street and Côte-des-Neiges Road (south of Queen Mary Road).
Other arterial roads, such as Van Horne and Girouard avenues, will see their speed limits reduced to 40 km/h, with many getting additional traffic-easing measures.
Two busy collector streets will see a speed reduction, as well.
De la Savane Street will see the limit reduced from 50 km/h to 40 km/h, and the speed limit on Somerled Avenue is being knocked down from 40 km/h to 30 km/h.
'Your vigilance is required'
A map, along with a full explanation of the borough's plan to reduce speed limits, is available on the CDN-NDG website.
"Please pay special attention to the new speed-limit signs," the borough says on the site. "Your vigilance is required."
However, officials, residents and safety advocates alike agree that simply installing new signs isn't enough, as drivers don't slow down just because a sign tells them to.
"We're happy the borough is taking this initiative, although we do believe that it must be enforced by several measures, because speed limits are not usually obeyed by the drivers," said Jason Savard, the bike team leader on the Association of Pedestrians and Cyclists of NDG.
Along with improved enforcement and radar signs that notify drivers of their speed, Savard said his group would like to see road designs that promote speed reduction.
Street by street, borough by borough
That's exactly what Montreal intends to do — not just in the borough of CDN-NDG but eventually across the city, said Popeanu, who sits on the city's executive committee.
"It will be step by step, street by street and borough by borough."
In the coming weeks, as the signs go up, she said borough officials will be meeting with police to encourage increased enforcement. The borough will also be looking at measures such as curb extensions, widening sidewalks, speed bumps, improved visibility and more.
"We work on all these issues to create a secure environment," she said. "When you drive slower, you have more time to brake so you can more easily avoid accidents."
CAA urges awareness campaigns, greater enforcement
CAA-Québec supports the speed-limit reduction.
CAA spokesperson Annie Gauthier said pedestrian fatalities are significantly reduced when drivers slow down, especially in busy urban centres.
Gauthier said reducing speeds "can be a really good solution, but it's not the only solution," citing a need for awareness-building campaigns and enforcement.
"Unfortunately, even though we don't like that, the best way to make people change their behaviours and respect the limits is to have police surveillance," she said. "People need to have the impression that they will get caught."
In NDG, Grey Avenue resident Anouk Laurent said she looks forward to the speed-limit reduction, as she sees cars and trucks speed by regularly on her street.
"I'm all for the change on residential streets provided it is implemented correctly," she said.
"If you have a speed limit and nobody checks, then it's not really worth anything."