Recent news that The Highway Traffic Board was looking at increasing speed limits on four-lane, divided roads in Winnipeg came as a bit of a shock. It feels incongruous at a time when speed limits are being reduced in other cities, such as Edmonton and Montreal. Not to mention that the City of Winnipeg itself is considering reducing posted limits on residential streets to 40 km/h and recently approved a 30 km/h speed zone around elementary schools.

Green Action Centre believes that increases in speed limits would be inappropriate unless the interests of all road users are protected, as outlined in a “Complete Streets” approach. This approach involves designing and operating our roads to provide safe and convenient access for all users – whether they are walking, riding the bus, driving, cycling or delivering goods. It recognizes the need to plan for the most vulnerable road users – children/youth, seniors, persons with disabilities – which results in a design that accommodates all users.

Green Action Centre’s submission (pdf) was  presented at the first public hearing held November 27th. In spite of the fact that it took place during work hours on a weekday, there was a significant turnout with the clear majority opposing speed limit increases, including all three City councillors for the areas discussed at that hearing. Bike to the Future also spoke in opposition to the increases.

Is it a matter of The Highway Traffic Board being influenced by a vocal minority who received speeding tickets, as suggested by Councillor Wyatt in a Winnipeg Free Press article? Hard to say but I would definitely agree with his comment that this review flies in the face of current research that shows the benefits of reduced speeds in dense urban areas, especially for pedestrians and cyclists.

You can submit your thoughts to The Highway Traffic Board in [email text=”writing”][/email] or in person at the next public hearings. They take place on December 4th and 11th, starting at 10 am, at 301 Weston St. in Winnipeg.