A few months ago, a major active transportation advocacy group in British Columbia asked me to review a response they have received from the Province when asked about why the government had not allowed the municipalities the right to post areas for 30 km/h speed limits. This has been asked for in a unanimous motion of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) several years ago.
The response the Provincial government penned was nonsensical. They basically said there was no reason for them to give the permission to municipalities to designate neighbourhood areas as 30 km/h, meaning that towns must painstakingly and at great expense place a multitude of signage on every block of any residential street to be slowed. They then need to insure that drivers know which streets are slower streets, instead of doing entire zones of slower streets.
It is a crazy response from the Province but shows the hurried need for speed of automobile fanciers, not so much the need of neighbourhoods to promote active transportation and sociability on the street. Actually using the street for other things instead of vehicle traffic. And there is data to prove it saves on health care costs and serious injury.
In Edinburgh, lowering road speeds to 30 km/h resulted in a 300 percent increase in biking and a a 25 percent reduction of cyclist and pedestrian injury rates in the first year of the reduced road speed.
It was so successful that Edinburgh is expanding their 30 km/h areas.
Mario Canseco of Research.co has once again updated his continuing work on polling the public regarding decreasing speed limits in neighbourhoods and surprise! Since last year support has increased by five points, and that support for slower streets goes right across citizens supporting all three of the province’s political parties. You can read Research.co’s data tables here.
As Mr. Canseco points out, speed is the top factor in vehicular crashes in a nine year period. Factor in the Province paying for cyclist and pedestrian involved crashes, and increased use of residential streets during the pandemic, and it just makes sense to slow drivers in residential areas.
So who wants slower streets? Seven in ten of residents think that Vancouver’s demonstration project of a 30 km/h area is a good idea, with 76 percent of women and 78 percent of British Columbians thinking its a great idea.
When Mr. Canseco’s company specifically asked about reducing neighbourhood street driver speeds while keeping major road speeds at 50 km/h, two-thirds of residents wanted to see this initiative.
So what is the hold up? It appears that British Columbians want the reduced 30 km/h speed limits: the UBCM and the surveys prove citizens want slower streets in their neighbourhoods.
Someone just has to get the attention of the Province. And slower driver speeds save fuel and lower carbon emissions. Now there are three reasons for the Province to finally act on this outstanding issue.