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Last week I wrote about City of Vancouver Councillor Pete Fry’s motion asking that Council support a resolution to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities to lobby the Province to amend the Motor Vehicle Act “to a default speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour for local streets with municipalities enabled to increase speed limits on local streets in a case-by-case basis by by-laws and posted signage.” Local streets refer to streets within a neighbourhood and not to streets that are arterials or residential collector streets with a yellow line down the center.

Councillor Fry has also requested that staff identify an area of Vancouver to pilot a 30 km/h speed limit, report back on the strategy, and implement the slower speed in that neighbourhood area to ascertain the effectiveness of the policy. That demonstration project within a neighbourhood would give citizens a litmus test of what changes when streets slow, and how pedestrians, seniors, rollers and cyclists might use the street space differently.

This is all well and good, and certainly follows practice internationally where the adoption of slower speeds on streets not only contributes to reduced fatalities and serious injuries. but also creates a new sense of livability, where stick hockey games can happen in the street, neighbours can stroll, and community conversations can occur. In Canada one-quarter of all Canadians will be seniors by 2030, and keeping seniors fit, engaged and active fits into slower streets that encourage walkability. In a place like Vancouver where there is pressure to create more rental housing and forgo some of the amenities that developers are normally asked for, slowing neighbourhood streets provides a low-cost way to enhance public environments. It is simply the right thing to do, and adds an element of safety on dark wintry rainy months.

So it was a surprise when Councillor Fry’s motion was being discussed at Council that a few NPA councillors clearly did not understand that slower neighbourhood streets are not just about fatalities and serious injuries, but  are about making a commitment to a quality of neighbourhood street life in a densifying city.

Given the fact that Council had just heard a presentation on resilient cities and had a motion to have 2/3 of all trips in Vancouver by active transportation or transit by 2030 it just made sense to slow neighbourhood streets. Instead these councillors positionally stated that serious accidents and fatalities did not happen on neighbourhood streets, the kind of conditioned protective response to motordom that has shaped the 20th century.

As Wanyee Li in The Star noted both Edmonton and Calgary are reviewing lowering speed to 30 km/h. Toronto reduced speed in downtown neighbourhood streets to 30 km/h in 2015. Councillor Fry’s motion is elegant in that by  asking the Province to grant municipalities “the power to establish speed limits for a certain category of streets or entire neighbourhoods” it does away with the need to sign each street.

This change to 30 km/h has been proposed before by the City of New Westminster and Councillor Patrick Johnstone a few years back to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. But perhaps the time has come to be more serious about creating slower streets and more cohesive neighbourhoods.

 Adrienne Tanner in the Globe and Mail writes: “Vancouver should follow the lead of other cities and embrace the slow-driving movement. In fact, why not take Mr. Fry’s motion a step further? Let’s dispense with the pilot project and drop the speeds on all residential streets. Even better, the province could take the initiative and save everyone the trouble of pushing for something that so obviously should be done.”

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Image: Global News 

Comments

  1. The province should be making it easier to allow this, but sadly, so far, there is no movement.

    1. Slower streets, yes, but I wish we would also take arrogant parking more seriously – the worst culprits being delivery drivers and cellphone users.
      I yelled at a delivery driver today who parked his truck taking the entire driving lane on Nootka, to deliver supplies to Ragazzi Pizza. I yelled because there was a ton of parking right beside him – no need to parallel park or anything. Just pull over out of everyone’s way. So simple.
      He was not contrite, to say the least. Said he had the right to stop there.
      No. There is a lane in back.
      Told me to mind my own business. Reminds me of a woman at the Brighton playset who was smoking who told me to mind my own business when I told her you couldn’t smoke there. If it’s not the business of someone with two kids to say something – then who?
      The UPS, FEDEX, PUROLATOR … these guys – all guys, are making a living for billionaire companies while parking helter skelter. Saves them time and effort. Endangering us.
      Imo these fines should be quadrupled, or fall under the category of dangerous and imprudent parking – with points assigned.
      Unless in fear of being assaulted, I always say something unpleasant to these guys. Wish I had the sang froid of the Stopham activists. Then again, they have comfort in numbers.
      Cellphone parkers … god save me … these people are horrible.
      Cellphones must be treated like open liquor.
      And they idle while they quack.
      There’s a great recent law in New York whereby anyone can record idling infractions and submit them. For their efforts they get 25% of the $350.00 fine (up to $2,000.00 for repeat offenders).
      There’s a vid called Idle Threat.
      One gentleman, a banker, has made $9,000.00 so far. Nice.

      1. Don’t forget the poor parkers who park a metre (or more from the curb), causing a hazard for cyclists and others. Many of the groups you listed also fall under this category, especially those dropping off or picking up passengers or the cell phone parkers who are totally clueless as to where the curb is. It would take them no longer to park properly.

        1. Paint a line to indicate the limit for the left side of vehicles— Large vehicles would need to park close to curb– small vehicles would have lots of wriggle room—- It would be easy for a by -law officer check compliance (2) More driver acceptance of lower speed limit as a way keeping ICBC premiums affordable

          1. There is no need for a painted line, as the Motor Vehicle Act already covers this:

            http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96318_05#section190

            Manner of parking
            190 Except when a municipality, a treaty first nation or the minister responsible for the administration of the Transportation Act permits, a driver must not stop, stand or park a vehicle on a roadway other than on the right side of the roadway and with the right hand wheels parallel to that side, and where there is a curb, within 30 cm of the curb.

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