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

The construction zone remains for now at Clover Point, but plans for a new pedestrian zone and partially closed traffic loop were approved by Victoria councillors on Thursday. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria council compromises with partial closure of Clover Point

Option preserves parking 14 spots facing ocean, creates more pedestrian space

(Black Press Media file photo)
Trees Cannabis to reignite downtown Victoria location as licensed store

The dispensary will reopen its 230 Cook St. location on Saturday

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong winds predicted for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issues warning for Thursday afternoon

Sergeant Francis Dion with the box containing HMCS Calgary’s new secret mascot costume. (HMCSNCSMCalgary/Facebook)
Don Devenney is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Community Builder of the year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore volunteer’s efforts an exercise in adventurous pursuits

Don Devenney is the 2021 recipient of the Community Builder Award

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

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

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

The BC SPCA is offering many chances for school-aged kids to learn about animal welfare and other animal topics. Pictured here is Keith, a three-month-old kitten seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
From pets to wildlife, BC SPCA offers animal education programs geared to youth

BC SPCA offering virtual spring break camps, workshops and school presentations

Most Read