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.
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.
What is a default speed limit?
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?
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?
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?
- 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?
- 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.
- It will help reduce near-misses and injury collisions everywhere so that people feel more comfortable on the streets outside of cars.
- 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?
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?
- 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.”
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 >>
- In May 2019, Vancouver voted unanimously in favour of 30km/h default speed limits. Limited by the Motor Vehicle Act, they were only able to initiate in a pilot project. Motion for Slower Streets at Vancouver City Council
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.
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%.
- Edmonton is considering a ‘core zone’ with reducing speeds to 30km/h on local roads on 40km/h for some main streets
Won't slower speeds cause more greenhouse gas emissions?
How do we know this is about safety and not about a cash grab from tickets?
This seems similar to school zones, but are 30km/hr school zones even effective?
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%.