EDITORIAL: Speed limits need a rethink

The debate around the current 50 km/h default speed limit in British Columbia will be front and centre at next month’s UBCM

The debate around the current 50 km/h default speed limit in British Columbia, and by extension, much of North America, will be front and centre at next month’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

While UBCM won’t release its final list of resolutions until the week before the event, City of Victoria councillors are confident their unanimous suggestion to lower the default speed limit to 40 km/h is an idea worth their counterparts’ time.

The “us versus them mentality” that tends to flare up between drivers and alternative transportation advocates is a misguided and nonconstructive approach, particularly when one examines the majority of Capital Region community plans that call for greater emphasis on cycling and pedestrian-friendly greenways.

But will lowering the default speed limit on residential streets by 10 km/hr really serve that end?

B.C. Coroner Barb McLintock, who also sits on the Capital Regional District’s traffic safety commission, notes there hasn’t been a pedestrian or cyclist fatality on a residential road in the Capital Region for five years, although she admits injury statistics are more difficult to calculate.

But safety is only one piece of a complex puzzle that hasn’t been rethought since the 1950s, when speed limits were set primarily to fan the embers of urban sprawl.

The CRD traffic commission, comprised of police, public health, school and government officials, plans to issue a public stance on lowering the default speed limit in September just before the UBCM convention.

Yet even if the speed limit resolution fails or the province chooses to ignore it, Victoria councillors will likely still push on with a 40 km/h pilot study in James Bay, something the local neighbourhood association has been requesting for nearly two decades.

And as Victoria Coun. Shellie Gudgeon points out, speed limits on main transportation arteries like Blanshard Street could even be raised to accommodate vehicles.

A 40 km/h default speed limit won’t create a cohesive approach to shared road space overnight, but it is an effective conversation starter to rethink 70 years of unencumbered car-centric infrastructure development.

Local groups like the Saanich-based Community Advocates for Reduced Speed are doing well to spur on debate across the Capital Region, whose municipalities should join Victoria in advocating for a lower default speed limit across B.C.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island riders conquering new heights

With no races, cyclists tackle Everest challenge to lift community

Saanich police search for suspect accused of using stolen credit, debit cards

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers says suspect made numerous fraudulent purchases

Homeless woman sentenced to 18 months in jail for selling drugs to Victoria police officer

Officer paid $20 for a substance consisting of heroin, fentanyl and caffeine

Family restaurant to hold Saturday fundraiser for Beirut blast

Wrap and Roll will donate all sales to victims of blast

Police looking for witnesses of alleged assault in Burnside Gorge’s Cecila Ravine

Concerned woman pushed to the ground, had phone broken while taking a photo of a dog

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read