City council vote could drop Vancouver's residential speed limit
Published Monday, April 22, 2019 4:32PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, April 22, 2019 7:01PM PDT
A Vancouver city councillor says he’s received vocal support around his motion to lower speed limit in some of the city’s residential neighbourhoods.
Coun. Pete Fry tabled a motion asking council to prepare a report for the Union of BC Municipalities, who would in turn lobby Victoria for a lower residential speed limit. If adopted in Vancouver, the lower limit would apply to roads without a centre line. He says none of the city’s major thoroughfares would be affected.
A vote on the motion is expected during Tuesday’s Vancouver City Council meeting.
“This is happening worldwide,” Fry told CTV News Vancouver Monday afternoon. “All the major cities in Europe are doing this, New York is doing this, Seattle just phased in a bunch of 20 mph (32 km/h) zones.”
Through his motion, called “Safer Slower Streets: 30 Km/h Residential Street Pilot,” Fry suggests reducing speed limit from 50 to 30 km/h for local streets in Vancouver. Other municipalities would be able to treat reducing or increasing speed limit on a case-by-case basis, if his recommendations pass the vote.
His reasoning is simple: slowing down saves lives.
“For pedestrians or cyclists hit by a car at 20km/h, your chances of a major life-changing injury or death are about 10 per cent; that increases to about 40 per cent if you’re hit by a car at the default speed limit,” said Fry.
“It’s not about war on the car, it’s not about slowing down major arterials, it’s about changing folks’ perception of public space and what it means to have residential space,” he added.
The first-term councillor remarked in his motion there are already several designated local streets with 30 km/h speed limit in Vancouver, including portions of Hastings Street, 29 Avenue and Victoria Drive.
Fry said most people already drive around 30 km/h in residential neighbourhoods to protect fellow drivers, cyclists and pedestrians; but Fry said problems arise when drivers stuck in traffic cut through side-streets and more quiet areas, and don’t adapt to the flow of neighbourhoods.
“Commuters get frustrated, they start looking for short-cuts through the neighbourhood, and those are the people we see getting angry and driving at 50km/h,” remarked Fry, “which in a residential street context seems very fast, even though it is the speed limit.”
Fry’s motion cites a 2016 Provincial Health Officer Annual Report recommended a limit of 30 km/h in urban areas, as well as a paper released by the B.C.-based Road Safety Law Reform Group in June 2016. He also points out in his motion that a 2018 B.C. Community Road Safety Toolkit further recommends dropping speed limit in downtown and residential areas.
And while the city has previously invested thousands of dollars in speed-limiting measures like roundabouts, pedestrian walkways and speedbumps, Fry said his method is both easier and cheaper.
“Posting a 30 kilometre sign is really low-hanging fruit when it comes to that,” he remarked.
As far as which neighbourhoods would be part of the pilot program, Fry had several ideas.
“The West End would be a good candidate, I think up around Commercial Drive and the Hastings-Sunrise area, plus of course my neighbourhood of Strathcona – but I don’t want to sound self-serving.”
With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Nafeesa Karim.