Winnipeg an outlier among major Canadian cities that have reduced residential speed limits

People in other major cities across the country are already driving slower in their neighbourhoods, as Winnipeg considers a pilot project to reduce residential speed limits of its own.

In that respect, Winnipeg remains an outlier, Ahmed Shalaby with the University of Manitoba says.

“Most other jurisdictions in North America have a default speed limit in residential areas of, you know, 40 km/h or 25 miles per hour, which is the same thing. We are at 50,” Shalaby, a professor in civil engineering, told 680 CJOB’s The Start.

Reducing speed limits gives everybody more time to react, he said.

“The issue is vehicles are becoming much larger right now on the road, taller … larger blind spots,” Shalaby said. “Also, vehicles are more powerful than they used to be.”

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Read more: 40 is the new 50: lower speed limit for Calgary’s residential roads now in effect

Out of Canada’s top 10 largest cities, Winnipeg is the only one that either hasn’t already explored a pilot project, made plans to lower residential speed limits or reduced some already.

Among them, Calgary dropped its speed limit on most residential streets to 40 km/h in May 2021, despite some initial pushback from people concerned about longer commutes, Joanna Domarad said Thursday.

A review of the changes is underway, and public service will report back to city hall this year on the impacts they’ve had on driving speeds and safety, Domarad, a mobility safety leader with the City of Calgary, told Global News.

“Most of what we are hearing from our residents is that they want more roadways to be reduced to 40 km/h, as opposed to, very few concerns are coming forward with people who want them raised,” she said.

Many residents realized travel times would only be impacted by a few minutes, Domarad said.

For example, a 10-km commute without stops would take 20 minutes at 30 km/h, 15 minutes at 40 km/h and 12 minutes at 50 km/h.

“Is 30 seconds more on your commute twice a day, is that worth having a safe street network and being safer for your kids and seniors to cross and get to the parks and to visit their friends?” Royce Bodaly said Thursday.

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Read more: Waterloo city council lowers speed limits in residential areas to 30 km/h

The Waterloo city councillor says they’re lowering speed limits even further, after a pilot project showed drivers slowed down according to signage alone, without changes to enforcement or street design.

In June, council there approved a 30 km/h limit on most collector and residential streets over the next few years.

Changing speed limits isn’t a silver-bullet solution to calming traffic, but it could have other ripple effects for design and safety down the road, Bodaly told Global News.

“I think that’s where we’re ultimately going to see the biggest bang for the buck for this from the speed limit changes, not just the fact that people will slow down because they see the sign, but it will be the catalyst for some significant changes in road design in the future when these roads are being reconstructed.”

No matter which city you live in, the hope is the same: keeping people safe by slowing them down.

Click to play video: 'Reduced speed limits on select residential Calgary roads start on May 31'

Reduced speed limits on select residential Calgary roads start on May 31

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