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.

 

Just Posted

The City of Victoria is proposing a northern contraction from Haultain Street to Bay Street with a western contraction from Cook Street to Chambers Street for Fernwood. (Illustration/Google Maps)
Community association calls for input on Victoria boundary changes

City of Victoria proposes changes to neighbourhood borders

Divyesh Nagarajan, third from the left, has founded the Be My Friend project to bring support and companionship to vulnerable youth and address North Saanich’s food security challenges. (Courtesy of Divyesh Nagarajan)
Greater Victoria teen looks to connect vulnerable youth with a buddy, bolster food security

Be My Friend project was founded by St. Michaels University School student Divyesh Nagarajan

These are just a handful of Vancouver Island’s missing person cases. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Marie Young, Lindsey Nicholls, Micheal Dunahee, Jesokah Adkens, Belinda Cameron and Emma Fillipoff. (File photos courtesy of family members and police departments)
Gorge skull fragment could bring closure to one Greater Victoria missing person case

Skeletal remains found in Greater Victoria have not yet been identified

(Black Press Media file photo)
UPDATE: Sooke Road reopens after gas leak at Colwood Corners

SD62 warns afternoon buses could be delayed

SIG
Policing amid pandemic challenging, says Sooke’s top cop

Mounties document reduction in property crime and impaired driving

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Most Read