The Toronto Star reported that members of a downtown community council voted unanimously to approve a new 30 km/h speed limit in the City. Local roads will see speed limits reduced from 40 km/h to 30 km/h. Approximately 387 km of roads will have new speed reductions put in place; the changes will cover a large part of the old City of Toronto (“downtown”) and East York. City crews will start to swap out many of the old speed limit signs starting in the fall of 2015. More details can be found in the article 30 km/h limit set for downtown residential streets (David Rider, Toronto Star, June 22, 2015).
Should the City of Vancouver consider following Toronto’s lead? A number of other cities around the world are in the process of putting in speed reductions, including Paris. The Toronto Star noted that Graz, Austria became the first large European City to implement 30 km/h speed limits back in 1992. The World Health Organization has identified speed “as a key risk factor in road traffic injuries.” A clear linkage between speed and pedestrian safety is noted:
For example, pedestrians have been shown to have a 90% chance of survival when struck by a car travelling at 30 km/h or below, but less than 50% chance of surviving an impact at 45 km/h. Pedestrians have almost no chance of surviving an impact at 80 km/hr.
Could it be possible for Vancouver to reduce speed limits on residential streets? Would it work for the section of the City that is north of 16th Avenue and west of Nanaimo?
The plans for reducing the speed limit have been discussed in Toronto for over 10 years. The recent impetus to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists may have been spurred on by the recent deaths of three cyclists who were killed by motor vehicles. One of the cyclists was renowned architect Roger du Toit, who was struck by a SUV (CBC: Toronto architect, dead after cycling accident).
The reduction in motor vehicle speed limits in Toronto will improve safety for cyclists.
An initiative by cycling activists in Toronto is to implement the idea of creating many new bicycle paths using a “minimum grid” concept. The focus is to concentrate on building many kilometres of bikeways at a low cost, rather than spending a lot of money on building a only few very expensive bikeways. In order to urge politicians to act, cyclists held a ‘die in’ at Toronto City Hall on June 19, 2015. Several photographs of the event are posted on twitter (search #minimumgrid for more):
— Janet Joy Wilson (@jsquaredink) June 20, 2015
Lower speed limits and separated bikeways improve safety. Are the City of Vancouver’s policies based on best practices? Or is there room for improvement? Does the allocation of funds for transportation infrastructure accurately reflect a plan “that includes more pedestrians, bikes and buses than cars” and support the statement “that pedestrians are the city’s top priority”?
According to the Vancouver Police Department, the “speed limit in any BC municipality is 50 km/h unless otherwise posted.” Slocan Street is a bikeway and has a posted speed limit of 30 km/h.