Saanich could see residential road speeds drop to 30 km/h, not 40 km/h as three councillors are pushing for more ambitious change.
On Monday (March 22), council will consider a report from Couns. Zac de Vries, Rebecca Mersereau and Ned Taylor which asks that Saanich amend its application for a provincial pilot project to reduce the default speed on residential roads – those without a centre line – to 30 km/h instead of 40 km/h.
In 2020, council agreed that Saanich would take part in a pilot project in partnership with the province to reduce the default speed on residential roads from 50 km/h to 40 km/h. The decision came after Mayor Fred Haynes wrote to B.C. Premier John Horgan in November 2019, calling for a province-wide residential road speed reduction under the Motor Vehicle Act.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure replied in early 2020, explaining that a province-wide speed reduction wasn’t feasible, but that Saanich could take part in a pilot project to change its default road speed t0 40 km/h. Council accepted the province’s invitation and called on other municipalities in the region to change their residential road speed limit as well.
However, Mersereau, de Vries and Taylor argue that 30 km/h would be safer.
Many of Saanich’s residential streets are narrow and few have sidewalks, meaning the roads are uninviting to anyone not in a vehicle, Mersereau said, adding that 30 km/h would reduce the severity of collisions and allow residential streets to be used for more than just commuting.
Taylor pointed out that, according to the World Health Organization, pedestrians have a less than 50 per cent chance of surviving a crash at 45 km/h, but the chances go up to 90 per cent at 30 km/h.
The public has also expressed “strong support” for a default speed of 30 km/h, de Vries said, adding that “pilot projects should be ambitious.”
Elise Cote is a member of Better Mobility Saanich, an advocacy group founded by former Saanich Coun. Dean Murdock, and feels “40 km/h is just not low enough.” She’s constantly afraid her young children will be struck in their residential street.
|Lucia Velazquez, a two-year-old Saanich resident, set out on her strider bike on a residential street where the default speed is currently 50 km/h. (Photo courtesy Elise Cote)|
Reducing residential road speeds to 30 km/h would be a quick solution to improve road safety while Saanich works on implementing its 30-year Active Transportation Plan, Mersereau said. She added that it wouldn’t increase travel time significantly, but would push drivers onto main roads.
Should council agree on 30 km/h – a speed the City of Victoria has approved for its pilot project – the other local municipalities that have expressed interest in joining the pilot project would be alerted.