The speed limit for residential roads in Calgary dropped to 40 km/h on Monday, with the hope it will make the streets safer and reduce accidents.
“We were seeing a lot of collisions,” the City of Calgary’s Tony Churchill said in an interview with Global News. “About a quarter of all Calgary’s collisions happen on these roads — that’s 9,100 per year on average.”
“When we look at how many people are actually being hurt on these roads, it’s about 550 a year,” Churchill said, adding that many of those people are seriously injured or killed.
“We know that pedestrians and cyclists — who we’ve been seeing a lot of during COVID-19 — they’re getting hurt more in these areas than in other areas, so it’s definitely about safety.”
The City of Calgary explained in a news release that travelling at a slower speed gives a driver “more time to react, broadens their field of vision, and reduces how severe crashes are when they happen.”
“It also gives others, including cyclists and pedestrians, more time to react to an approaching vehicle.”
Calgary city council voted in favour of reducing the default unposted speed limit on neighbourhood streets on Feb. 1.
Residential roads are the roads in front of most houses and typically have no centre line.
The change doesn’t impact so-called collector roads, which can have homes, schools, businesses or green spaces on them and typically do have a centre line. Collector roads are often bus and snow routes.
“As we can do more data collection and changes to those roads, we could drop those to 40 km/h as well,” Churchill said.
The change also doesn’t impact major roads like Crowchild Trail, Memorial Drive or Anderson Road.
In addition, playground zones have not been changed and remain at 30 km/h 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Calgary police will be focusing primarily on educating drivers on the changes instead of ticketing them during the next few weeks.
“We recognize that it’s going to take time for citizens to adapt to the new changes,” Const. Randy MacDonald from the Calgary Police Service said. “So our officers are taking an education-first approach.”
“They’re going to be following a similar approach to what we did when we harmonized our playground zones in school zones,” Churchill added.
“They’re going to be doing a lot of education and outreach in the first month, and then after — that’s when they’re going to be transitioning into fines.”
For more information on the new default residential speed limit – including a search tool that allows Calgarians to look up the speed limit in front of their home – can be found at calgary.ca/saferspeed.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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