City cracking down on heavy-footed drivers

The City of Victoria hopes to install speed-reader boards on some of the busier streets downtown.

The City of Victoria hopes to install speed-reader boards on some of the busier streets downtown in an effort to crack down on heavy-footed drivers.

For the past year, drivers on various downtown streets have been ignoring the posted speed limits, according to a report to council.

In December 2014, council reduced the speed limit from 50 kilometres an hour to 40 km/h on Richmond Road, Southgate Street, Quadra Street, Gorge Road, Bay Street between Blanshard Street and Richmond Road, and Douglas Street between Belleville Street and Dallas Road. The speed limit was also reduced on Cook Street between Southgate Street and Dallas Road from 50 km/h to 30km/hr.

However, most drivers are routinely ignoring the signs, driving roughly 45 to 46 km/h in 40km/h zones. On Cook Street, the average speed was 48 km/hr in the 30 km/hr zone.

“The monitoring results to date have shown that posting reduced speed limit signs on streets has had some effect on motorist behaviour but has not resulted in the desired compliance levels,” said the report.

During a meeting last week, mayor and council voted to look at installing speed-reader boards, which tells motorists their current speed in relation to the posted speed limit, and to step up its public awareness campaign and increase enforcement.

Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe sees the benefit of installing speed-reader boards.

“The severity of the accident would be reduced with reduced speeds. I support reader boards,” she said. “Sometimes you’re unconscious of the fact that you’re in those zones and you reduce your speed when you do see those reader signs.”

This is the first step to making the roads more safe for all users, noted Coun. Ben Isitt.

“We’re putting meat on the bones. This is the first step in the traffic calming program. We’re moving in a direction consistent with other communities,” he said, noting Seattle recently passed a motion to install more speed humps and traffic circles to prevent drivers from speeding.

“Every neighbourhood is entitled to have more traffic calming.”

Coun. Chris Coleman noted the importance of enforcement when it comes to reducing one’s speed and said in the future council must strike a balance between making roads safe for pedestrians and cyclists, while also allowing traffic to move efficiently in and out of the downtown core.

Staff estimate five solar-powered boards can be purchased through existing budgets and rotated long the routes to increase awareness. The cost for additional boards will need to be considered in next year’s budget.

In the long-term, staff recommended installing road design elements, such as medians, curb extensions, speed humps, or cushions, to get drivers to slow down.

According to ICBC, drivers caught speeding could face a fine of between $138 to $196.