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While the City of Vancouver dithers about reducing speeds to 30 km/h in their neighbourhoods, the City of Montreal just gets it done, and they are reducing speed on their arterial roads too. Montreal is not just doing lip service to Vision Zero, the concept that no serious injuries or deaths should result on city roads. They identified reducing speed limits as essential, especially where pedestrians and cyclists used the street.

In Vancouver we don’t talk about Vision Zero officially, as the previous Vision controlled council did not like the term for their own political reasons. It’s time  for this Council to take control and bring the right term  back.

It has been proven internationally that the one way to save lives on roads is to lower speed limits. That increases the survivability of a crash for a pedestrian and cyclist, and also allows for more reaction time for the driver. It is also more sustainable to travel at slower speeds, and allows the streets to function in a sociable way for residents walking and cycling, instead of just facilitating fast vehicular traffic.

As the CBC reports some of Montreal’s  boroughs have already adopted speed limits of 30 km/h in neighbourhoods and 40 km/h on arterial roads. Listen to the messaging from the Mayor of Montreal, who says that not only is it important to methodically implement slower speed limits for enhanced street use and livability, but that those limits need to be lowered quickly. They are serious about reducing injuries and saving lives.

Montreal’s Vision Zero plan is direct and to the point. Besides reducing speeds, they are banning heavy trucks from some of the street network, improving safety around schools, and improving crosswalk visibility. I have already written about the City of London banning certain trucks and requiring sideguards on others. London realized that one kind of truck was in three years responsible for 70 percent of that city’s cycling deaths. Those trucks  are now completely banned from the inner core of London.

The City of Montreal has buy-in from the  public health department, Quebec’s automobile insurance board and both the Federal and Provincial Ministries of Transport. Montreal has also led a fulsome public process engaging with citizens and over thirty different groups, including the trucking industry.

Montreal mayor Valerie Plante inclusively invited all Montrealers to sign a Vision Zero commitment to slow down and save lives. As Mayor Plante directly  states:“This open and evolving approach that we are embarking on today will begin with our efforts to bring about a paradigm shift in road safety and mobility choices.”

Meanwhile back in Vancouver plodding progress is being made at identifying a neighbourhood for a test pilot of 30 km/h speeds, and bringing the matter up at the next Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting. You can take a look at the Council motion here.

So far in 2019 one pedestrian a month is losing their life on Vancouver Streets. We must do better and be more aggressive at addressing this problem. Vancouver, it is time to be like Montreal. Let’s call it Vision Zero, and let’s get serious about saving lives.

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  1. Points well made! However, the point also needs to be made that Vancouver’s suburbs (Fraser health District) likely have much greater incidences of MVI deaths than North Shore-Vancouver-Richmond (Coastal Health District): suburbs 52% greater in 2018, although down from 74% greater in 2009. I’ve noted over the years that the City of Vancouver occasionally seeks a “vision zero,” but then sort of gives into what might be labeled “inevitability.” The City’s Engineering Department seems more committed to reducing car dependence. Maybe that’s more obtainable, which may explain why the engineers seem less open to reducing speed limits.

  2. Given that Vancouver has streets already posted at 30km/h (Wall Street, Lakewood Dr. etc) what is the point of a pilot? Lets hope the BC Government acts on Vision Zero as support needs to come from the Province. When Sweden created/adopted Vision Zero their national government wrote it into law.

    Perhaps Vancouver could learn from the public engagement undertaken by Montreal to give the subject more attention. It can be a bit of a minefield. Locally, North Shore Health was part of a forum a few years ago to highlight the need to reduce posted speeds and adopt Vision Zero principles to prevent road injuries and deaths. That forum, hosted in the District of NV council chambers, titled “Slow Down the North Shore” attracted drivers already frustrated by traffic congestion who became livid at the thought of lowering speed limits. It didn’t help that the RCMP and West Vancouver police who were invited to speak were of the opinion that lowering the default speed would require a federal initiative. Hopefully the nudging by our municipalities will get our provincial government to act to protect all road users.

  3. 30km/h on smaller residential roads makes sense.

    40km/h on arterial roads is COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS. There has to be a balance of getting around in a timely fashion – both goods and people – with risk and potential death or injuries of bikers or walkers.

    Where does this madness end ? If 40 km/h why not 25 km/h or no cars at all. That would surely save even more lives. Disallow planes too? Motorbikes ? Walk around is a safe bubble suit only ? Or as a compromise, walk with helmet only ? Even walking upright is dangerous as your head is 5-6 ft from a sidewalk. Gee.

    Plenty of commuter options for bikes exist usually just a block or 2 in parallel to arterial roads in most cities.

  4. A quibble: it has not been proven internationally that lowering speed limits save lives. What saves lives is lowering vehicle *speeds*. The wisdom of the Vision Zero philosophy is understanding that these are different things.

    Most arterials have a 50km/h limit now, but that doesn’t stop the majority of traffic from driving at 65-70km/h. Changing the limit to 40 will, similarly, do not a damn thing. We need to focus on road design and lane widths. Cities that commit to a Vision Zero philosophy will have mandate that *all* new streets and significant roadworks will incorporate streets designed to an appropriate design speed.

  5. 10k at 40 kph = 15 min
    10k at 60 kph = 10 min

    Stand up everyone who thinks their impatience is worth potentially killing someone. Sit down Beyer.

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