Edmonton councillors vote for default 40 km/h residential speed limit

Councillors voted Wednesday to implement a default speed limit of 40 km/h in most of Edmonton’s residential neighbourhoods.

It will also apply to core roads like Jasper Avenue and Whyte Avenue.

“None of this is talking about the roads we’re commuting on,” Councillor Andrew Knack said.

“We’re talking about the roads that exist in front of our homes and, to me, I feel very comfortable setting that at the same speed limit as we are comfortable for a playground zone in our communities.”

The 8-5 vote that was carried was for the 40 km/h limit to be applied in the core zone, outside the core zone and in high-pedestrian and main street areas.

The core zone includes neighbourhoods like Glenora, Belgravia and Avonmore.

“But my residents are telling me that they don’t want to fix something that’s not broken.”

Most of those areas are currently 50 km/h, aside from marked school and playground zones.

A suggestion of a 30 km/h zone was rejected by councillors Wednesday.

Councillor Mike Nickel, who voted against the change to 40 km/h, said he was beside himself. He described the decision being “about feelings; not facts” and called it a one-size-fits-all approach to speed reductions.

“One-size-fits-all policies use a hammer to swat flies,” Nickel said, adding pedestrian-car safety is a shared responsibility.

Edmonton was considering two recommendations that would reduce speed limits in parts of the city.

The first recommendation was to drop the speed limit to 40 km/h on all residential roads. The other recommendation was to target a smaller area but take the speed down to 30 km/h.

In the first scenario, Edmonton would apply a default speed limit of 40 km/h in residential neighbourhoods, which are mostly 50 km/h presently.

This change would not affect roadways that are set at 60 km/h or higher or arterial roads.

There are also some exception roadways. City administration will evaluate residential collector roads to determine if some should remain at 50 km/h.

In the second scenario, what the city defines as “the core zone” would have had a 30 km/h limit.

“The enforcement side can get very confusing for motorists,” Acting Insp. Geoff Mittelsteadt said on Wednesday.

“When we start posting different signs from entry and exit points, when you’re trying to enforce that… you have to document where those entry and exit points are going to be to be enforceable. There can be an easy argument from a motorist’s point when it does go to court.”

Police said they get about 5,000 traffic complaints a year.

Julie Kusiek, from Livable Streets Edmonton, would have preferred to see a default speed limit of 30 km/h.

“If consistency is the important thing then the most consistent speed limit we can have in Edmonton is, in fact, 30 km/h because that aligns with our speed limits in our playground zones.”

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