Calgary is poised to move ahead with a proposed bylaw to drop the unposted speed limit from 50 to 40 kilometres per hour within city limits.
Administration is asking the city’s Standing Policy Committee on Transit and Transportation to recommend that council hold a public hearing and give three readings to the new bylaw.
Along with the city-wide reduction, the proposal directs administration to post 50 km/h signs on existing collector roads “unless or until a credible environment for a slower speed is provided.”
It also suggests a push to revise the city design standards. On collector roads they want it to allow for 40 km/h and residential standards to support 30 km/h. They want to apply those standards to new communities and retrofit projects on existing roadways.
Previously, the city was looking at three different scenarios to address speed in the city.
“The benefit of speed limit reduction is that it is a measure which targets all neighbourhoods and can reduce the frequency of those broadly distributed collisions which are inefficient to target through spot improvements at a street-by-street or intersection-by-intersection level,” read the city’s technical analysis for the neighbourhood speed limit review.
They pinpointed several problem areas where drivers are hitting pedestrians. Administration suggested those areas could have a combined traffic calming program put in place.
The administration report said it expected the change would reduce the number of collisions by 300. Changes would comes at a cost to the city of $2.3 million.
Calgary police express enforcement concern
The Calgary police provided feedback to the city on the proposed bylaw. They said that fair notice was important in reducing “challenges with the prosecution of offenses.”
“Given the proposed plan regarding signage, the CPS provided feedback that fair notice to Alberta drivers is optimal when speed signs that conflict with the TSA are posted at each enforcement location,” they wrote in a statement to the city.
(TSA refers to Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act.)
The CPS also emphasized the importance of traffic calming measures in conjunction with the proposed speed reduction. Still, they expressed some concerns.
“The CPS also provided feedback outlining the challenges associated with using a municipal bylaw to set a local speed limit as opposed to directly amending the Traffic Safety Act (TSA) to achieve greater province-wide consistency, road safety, and set notice to drivers,” their statement to the city said.
“The CPS cannot support the use of a by-law to conduct speed enforcement if it fails to reference the TSA and engage the current legal process.”[sic]
Driver time impact
Administration said in its report that the changes would have “little impact” on a typical driving trip.
They have a project website that included a link to ETAtool.com, which analyzes travel time impacts at different speeds.
Communities around Calgary have reduced their speed limits inside civic boundaries. Okotoks is at 40 km/h and Airdrie is at 30 km/h.
Administration’s report to council also points out that Edmonton is in the process of reducing their posted speed limit.
They also said that the city should move towards 40 km/h on collectors and 30 km/h on residential roads.
On social media, some councillors voiced their calculated displeasure with the proposed change.