Love 30 if you’re sweet on sustainability. 

What’s your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day? Green Action Centre swoons over sustainable initiatives, which is why we’re advocating for a speed limit for Winnipeg that makes roads safer for people who walk, bike or use public transit. Using cars less is an important step to reach climate targets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We love the idea of 30km/h, and are sweet on safe speeds. 

Roads need to be safe for people to walk or bike to make it feasible to leave their car at home. It’s an essential piece of a sustainable and equitable transportation system, that allows all people of all ages, abilities and income levels to access services like recreation, health, and education. 

We’ve joined community organizations, grassroots groups, and Winnipeg residents who want to see a safe 30km/h default speed limit for Winnipeg, to help the city have a sustainable and equitable transportation system. 

People have posed a lot of great questions and concerns about 30km/h speeds limits in our neighbourhoods. Here’s an FAQ to help you understand why 30km/h is important, and why Green Action Centre wants to see it in Winnipeg.

Learn more at love30.ca or safespeedswpg.com.

 

Why 30km/h?

30km/h is the only safe speed on roads where there is shared use – people drive, walk, or bike on the same road. Risk of pedestrian death drops from 80% to 5% when speeds are reduced from 50km/h to 30km/h.

Read the World Health Organization’s road safety manual >>

Find more statistics>>

What is a default speed limit?
The default speed limit is the maximum speed unless otherwise posted. In Winnipeg, the maximum speed has historically been 50km/h, with posted speed limits for specific roads or portions of a road raised above that as necessary.

The roads with posted speeds higher than 50km/h would still likely continue to have a higher posted speed limit with the reduced default speed of 30km/h.

Why are reduced speeds more sustainable?
Transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Manitoba. Choosing sustainable modes of transportation, like taking the bus, walking, or biking, is an important step Winnipeg residents can make to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

 

Road safety issues make it difficult for people to leave their car at home. Pedestrians and other vulnerable road users bear the brunt of the impacts of traffic collisions. Reducing speed limits can eliminate risk of serious injury, or even death, so that people can have safe and sustainable transportation options. 

Won't 30km/h default speed limits increase traffic congestion and lead to more idling?
Since major high-speed roads won’t be affected, this will mostly alter the first and last minute of a car drivers’ commute as the enter/exit quieter neighbourhood streets where average speeds are already low especially during non-ideal driving conditions (night, rain/snow storms, ice/snow ruts in winter, parked cars and narrower lanes, etc.).

Reduced speeds supports people using many methods of transportation, which ultimately reduces the number of vehicles using the roads and minimizes traffic congestion. In places that have implemented 30km/h speeds limits, there has been less traffic issues. 

Also, the dominant cause of traffic congestion is intersection bottlenecks (traffic signals and stop signs), not midblock speed.

Projections in cities that are moving to 30km/h speed limits show minimal changes in travel times. Check out this cool tool to estimate tip times in Edmonton: https://www.edmonton.ca/transportation/traffic_safety/residential-speed-limits-eta-tool.aspx

Which streets will be impacted by the 30km/h default speed limit?
Not all streets will have a 30km/h speed limit. A default speed limit will largely impact streets where a speed limit is not currently posted. Some streets will continue to have a posted speed limit that is higher than the default speed, such as Fermor, Inkster or St Anne’s. The default 30km/h speed limit would impact local streets, and some collectors. The speed reduction would not impact major or minor arterials. 

 

  • Winnipeg has four classifications of roads 
    • Major arterials have efficient flow of traffic at high speeds, with limited access and large volumes of traffic
    • Minor arterials promote traffic movement and connectivity, with moderate speeds and moderate amounts of traffic
    • Collectors support local access and traffic movement, with moderate speeds and lower volumes of traffic
    • Local roads give access for all road users at low speeds and low volumes of traffic 

 

Most of the fatalities and serious injuries that have been in the news have taken place on major roads not impacted by the 30km/h speed limit. How does safe speeds make a difference?
 

  1. Implementing a human-scale city-wide default speed is one of the few system-wide measures that will increase safety of people throughout the City.  
  2. It will help reduce near-misses and injury collisions everywhere so that people feel more comfortable on the streets outside of cars.
  3. With thousands of kilometers of streets in the City, it is far less expensive to implement a lower default speed than to add speed signs.

It will significantly decrease City staff costs and workloads to evaluate hundreds of streets block-by-block.

How will implementation work? Won’t it be expensive and cause a lot of confusion? What streets will be impacted?
Implementation will be an affordable process, focusing on outreach and public messaging to inform people of the change. The implementation procedure will be developed by the City, which may include (but is not limited to) the following: 

Analysis of streets: City engineers and staff will conduct an analysis and study to determine an appropriate balance between safety and mobility objectives for higher-speed and higher-volume streets. Some streets will maintain a posted higher speed limit; current speed limits posted at 60 km/h or higher will likely maintain a higher speed

Signage: changes or updates to speed limit signage will be minimal, as many places with speed limits above the default speed will remain the same as they are today. 

Communication: The City produces communication materials and conducts outreach with Winnipeg residents

Enforcement: An enforcement process will be determined by the City with input from the Winnipeg Police Service. Options could include:

  • Allocating revenue from speeding tickets to traffic calming and active transportation infrastucture, rather than general revenue, to continue supporting sustainable transportation
  • Enforcement based on high-priority lower-speed areas, e.g. near schools, hospitals, parks, and cycling corridors
  • Staggered Enforcement Process: A gradual enforcement to phase-in the reduced speed limit to give residents time to adjust driving behaviours 
    • a period of time of ‘friendly reminders’ and warnings > small tickets > standard speed enforcement with tickets and demerits

Implementation Cost: Although implementation will have a large cost, there will be overall net savings. 

  • Less police attendance at collisions
  • Fewer staff costs to study speed limit changes
  • Fewer speed limit signs
  • Far less societal costs due to physical inactivity, car crashes, and congestion costs when more people travel by active modes of transportation.

 

What other places in Canada are implementing 30km/h speed limits?
Ontario: Toronto

  • In 2015, wards across Toronto and East York have adopted a 30km/h speed limit. A report published in early February shows significant, measurable benefits
    • “28-per-cent fewer pedestrians were hit by motorists on these roads after the speed limit was reduced.”
    • “The number of people on foot killed or seriously injured on these roads plunged 67 per cent.”

Read more >>

Find the full report from BMC

British Columbia: Vancouver and Victoria, and more municipalities

BC Municipalities are lobbying the Provincial government for amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act, with a default speed limit province-wide of 30km/h on local streets, and to increase speed limits on a case-by-case basis. Read more about the provincial changes >> 

Vancouver

Read news about safe speeds in Vancouver >>

Victoria

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is pushing for a speed limit of 30km/h for the city. 

  • Joining the movement to change provincial law, Victoria would also like default speed limits to save money and reduce confusion. 
  • Victoria estimates $200 000 would be necessary to cover signage costs if they do not implement city-wide. 

Read more about Victoria >>

Alberta: Edmonton

Edmonton is making moves to reduce speeds across the city. 

  • Playground zones with 30km/h speed limit have been implemented across the city, at schools and playgrounds. There are 393 playground zones.
    • Since the playground zones were implemented collisions have been reduced by 13%. Injuries and fatalities have been reduced by 42% and injuries to vulnerable road users have gone down by 71%.

Read more about playground zones >>

  • Edmonton is considering a ‘core zone’ with reducing speeds to 30km/h on local roads on 40km/h for some main streets

Read more about the core zone >>

Won't slower speeds cause more greenhouse gas emissions?
Prioritizing walking and biking as transportation options is one of the best things the city can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In Manitoba, transportation is one of biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, which is why we are supporting a mode shift away from cars towards sustainable transportation like public transit, walking, or biking. 30km/h is one step in supporting active transportation. It has other benefits too – like reducing traffic congestion as there are fewer cars on the road, less noise pollution, and increasing business at local shops.
How do we know this is about safety and not about a cash grab from tickets?
There are options for enforcement policy that distributes enforcement actions based on collision risks and resident requests. Check out more about implementation. 
This seems similar to school zones, but are 30km/hr school zones even effective?
Studies have found significant reductions in frequency of collisions and reductions in serious injuries to children and other vulnerable road users as a result of reduced 30km/h speed limits in areas around schools. 

A study conducted in Edmonton found that collisions involving injuries or fatalities decreased by 45% and collisions resulting in injuries of children were reduced by 55% in the 30km/h zone. For every 1km/h reduction in mean speed, fatal injury crashes were reduced by 4%. 

Read more >>

The full research paper >>

We already have school zones, why do we need slow speeds in more areas?
School zones are effective in increasing safety for students, but what about other people who walk or bike? To provide more consistent safety and maximize health benefits (for ALL), local health agencies recommend that 30km/h speed limits be expanded to additional areas.