Princeton Avenue becomes first street to lower speed limit to 30 km/h

The City of Ottawa has approved a petition to lower the speed limit to 30 km/h on a residential street in Westboro.

Residents want to stop high school students from racing down road

Princeton Avenue is the first street in Ottawa to have its speed limit officially lowered to 30 km/h. (Elise von Scheel/CBC News)

The City of Ottawa has approved a petition to lower the speed limit to 30 km/h on a residential street in Westboro. 

Princeton Avenue will become the first Ottawa road to have a permanent cap of 30 km/h after city council approved a new road speed policy in April.

New signage will be installed by Sept. 15, according to the city.

Previously, the city ruled that posted speed limits could be no lower than 40 km/h.

Residents of the area say students from Nepean High School rip through the neighbourhood at speeds well over the current 50 km/h limit. 

"Sometimes they like to race down the street," said Sandra Coultish, who has lived on the street since 1968. 

"[Once] there were no stop signs. Then, when they put in the stop signs, they race down the street and then they drive through the stop signs."

Signs may not deter speedsters

It's that speed that convinced one resident to create a petition to send to the city. The proposal received signatures from 90 per cent of homeowners. 

"It came a bit out of left field for me," said Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, who represents the area. 

"The city then asked for my concurrence and I was very pleased to give that concurrence."

But both Leiper and Princeton Avenue residents are worried that posting the signs may not be enough to deter speedsters. 

The 30 km/h speed limit is usually reserved for school zones, but in April the City of Ottawa approved a policy allowing residential streets to apply to have that same limit posted permanently. (Katie Nicholson/CBC)

"Slowing down the traffic on residential streets is really important. People don't feel safe," Leiper said. "A 30 km/h limit doesn't necessarily mean that people will automatically go 30. We still need better enforcement."

Coultish said she's fearful her young grandnephew, who comes to play in her backyard, could run into the street and get hit. 

She said she'd like to see more police on the street once the new signage goes up. 

"I think that people might pay attention if they got caught a couple of times," Coultish said.

Not for all streets

Until that happens, Leiper said the reduced limit is a good start.

"I hope we'll see a flood of these applications," he added. "My request for the police would be to help the city meet residents' expectations with better enforcement than we've had."

But not all streets qualify for a reduced limit. 

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said he hopes other streets will submit proposals after seeing the effect on Princeton Avenue. (Elise von Scheel/CBC News)

Only narrow, quiet residential streets with no bike lanes and limited transit service can apply for the switch. 

No installation date has been set by the city to affix the new speed limit signs on Princeton Avenue.

Leiper said residents of another street in his ward have also applied for a reduced speed limit, but he didn't say which street.