It’s a tale of two different governments. Despite the unanimous motion of the UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities)  asking the Provincial government to give  municipalities the power to create neighbourhood zones of 30 km/h, the government has said no.

That means that if a municipality wants to create a 30 km/h zone as is being done in other residential areas around the world, each street will have to be signed with 30 km/h signs, a tedious and expensive process for any municipality.  The Province has put thumbs down on allowing cities to simply designate neighbourhood 30 km/h zones, a much more coherent approach, and quite frankly what every other European city is doing.

You have to remember that the engineering staff that reports to the current Provincial government is pretty much the same  as that of the previous Liberal government. Those were the folks that  brought us the bike lanes on Highway 17 (which Patrick Johnston has written about trying to ride).

That Engineering staff also produced a  whole bunch of too wide intersections for pedestrian and cyclist crossings on  Provincial highways, and generally design for vehicular traffic comfort as if it is still the 20th century. That reticence is one of the reasons pedestrians and cyclists die in this province, and why the Provincial Medical Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall’s report on mitigating vehicular deaths is really not celebrated as the watershed document it is. In this province  there is an increase in vulnerable road user deaths, and limiting speeds are a key strategy to make roads safe for everyone.

Look at the different response of the City of London that TODAY made all the roads in the central London congestion charge zone 20 mph which is roughly 30 km/h. And look at the rationale. There’s a

 long-standing policy of making 20 mph the speed limit on all London roads where people live, work and shop closer to realisation, and with it, the accompanying reduction in the road danger caused by higher speeds.

London’s TFL (Transport for London) seeks to have 140 kilometres of roads with 20 mph speed limits by 2024, which will put pressure on other roads to also accept the lower speed limits. And why?

They clearly state that there is a correlation between higher speeds and crashes, with speed a factor in nearly 40 percent of crashes where there is a fatality or serious injury. Couple that with the fact that a pedestrian has a 90 per cent chance of surviving a crash at 30 km/h but only a 10  per cent chance if crashed into at 50 km/h.

But back to the Province. What will it take to understand the importance of slower neighbourhood speeds to lower auto emissions, enhance livability, and make walking and cycling safer and more comfortable with slower neighbourhood speeds? How can the work internationally and the unanimous request of  the organization representing all municipalities be spurned?

What will it take for the Province to move into the 21st century?


  1. BC is in Canada, not Europe last time I checked.

    Canada has an appeal to immigrants of wide open spaces, cheaper housing, less regulations and lower energy costs ie more economic freedom to start a new life.

    As such excessive nanny state regulations ought to be seen in this wider context.

    While 30-35 km/h makes sense in many urban areas it doesn’t make sense as a blanket approach in every city.

    1. What the cities are asking for is to ability to set their own individual blanket limit on non-arterial streets without having to sign every block, as they currently do. This is a simple change to the MVA and shouldn’t be controversial. Nobody is saying cities should be forced to implement lower speed limits. That being said, lower limits are safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

  2. “As such excessive nanny state regulations ought to be seen in this wider context.”

    The problematic regulation here is the provincial standard for speed limits in municipalities, which doesn’t let local governments manage their own streets without the added cost burden of posting signs every block.

    City of Vancouver staff are currently developing a 30 km/hr speed limit pilot at the direction of council. The recommendations are due out shortly. All the provincial regulation does is add cost, since the City is able to establish speed limits for specific streets. Just let them do it by neighbourhood, with signs at the entrances to those neighbourhoods.

    1. If you allow any city to declare the entire city 35 km/h you still need signs to allow 50 or 60 for through roads.

      Vancouver is not the center of the BC universe – esp as far as traffic is concerned. Only folks in Vancouver think so. Many cities have a viable urban core AND are laid out in a Canadian, not European or Asian, context ie NOT tiny streets with tons of pedestrians.

      Ideally speed is forced by design, ie narrow roads and planters so that you cannot go fast like we see in the UK, for example. Of course Point Grey or West End or Shaughnessy is full of cars and forces a certain speed reduction. The core issue is that even the NDP government, allegedly fighting climate, took away the PM bridge tolls, has zero plans to introduce road tolls or foster an EV friendly climate via taxation of road toll measures. Loads of lip service. We don’t even allow class 5 license for Uber so the avg guy can make a buck or 5 to take people to and/from work or the occasional trip to interior BC. We don’t even charge Uber or Lyft drivers per km to monetize the increased traffic in MetroVan.

      Can and should we learn from Europe: yes in SOME areas where the design of cities warrant it but not everywhere. If Vancouver feels 30-35 km/h is right for many denser zones then why not. But a blanket BC wide approach is the wrong approach !

      1. Thomas B, with all due respect, this is not a City of Vancouver request, it is from the UBCM and was not put forward by Vancouver. The request is a simple administrative change to the MVA to enable municipalities to set blanket speed limits either across the board or by road type. It would not be forced, municipalities can leave their speeds as is or they can change them if they so desire. Cities already are able to set the speed they want, but the requirements are onerous and costly, requiring numerous signs. I can’t understand why the government or any reasonable person would object to this.

        As far as you point that ‘If you allow any city to declare the entire city 35 km/h you still need signs to allow 50 or 60 for through roads.’, that is not the case. The city could simply put up signs at every access point to the city saying ‘Maximum 35 km/h unless otherwise specified’ as they do in many cities across North America, except BC where they are currently not allowed to do this.

        1. As I said. BC is not Europe. As such the UBCM is mistaken. Many municipalities also think we have a “climate crisis” and that small or large cities in BC can do anything about the alleged “crisis”.

          1. Thomas B, nobody said or claims that BC is Europe. Most cities in North America can easily set their own speed limits, but BC makes the ability to do this overly onerous and costly. All anybody is asking for is to allow BC cities to be able to do what other cities can and are doing, without onerous costs. It is a win/win and will save us money.

  3. In fact, it is good practice to create outcome focused policy and regulation that reflects context with broad, meaningful measures. So, one can agree with a concern about imposition where there is no fit while supporting regulations that dramatically reduce injury, health care costs and improve the livability of neighbourhoods and which are proven internationally (and elsewhere in Canada).

    Victoria’s Oaklands Rise Woonerf is one of many (many) concepts building upon Dutch traffic engineer’s models originating in the 1960/70s in which streets that fit certain criteria are recognizes as people-first spaces. In this area, that means driving at the pace of people for the 1-2 blocks it takes to reach a connector or arterial road.

    A citizen driven initiative, we’ve worked with the City for three years, Council’s unanimous support three times, still noting obstacles despite that there is now urgency as non-invasive traffic calming needs to exist BEFORE increased non-local traffic. From our 2018 area survey: “84% of respondents are willing to drive at the pace of people (5-15 kph).43% indicate satisfaction with a 20 kph speed limit and 66% will petition for a reduced speed limit”.

    We’re working toward art in the streets, engagement with multi-generational passersby from several surrounding neighbourhoods and a “quality of life accessibility” that means people in wheelchairs and with assistive devices can ‘stroll” side by side in a way impossible on a sidewalk or any typical street.

    As for the visual pollution of excess signage, in Victoria it can take 12 – 20 signs within 100 metres of a neighbourhood intersection roundabout to point out that you are looking at: guess what: a roundabout. The cost in dollars, environment and visual experience is well beyond reasonable.

    There’s much learning to be down both a planning and leadership, and political levels.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *