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. Read more »