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.