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?