In recent months, Victoria and Saanich Councils have both approved applying to the provincial government for a three-year pilot project to reduce the default speed limit on their side streets (streets without centre lines) to 30 km/h from the current 50 km/h. The project will provide data to inform longer-term decisions about appropriate vehicle speeds in urban areas.
Research elsewhere has demonstrated that slower streets are safer, more livable streets for everyone—pedestrians, cyclists, children, dogs and cats, and urban wildlife, like deer, reducing both the number and severity of collisions with vehicles.
It’s a growing trend in cities around North America, including Vancouver and Toronto. According to research cited by the District of Saanich’s Engineering Department, when a vehicle is travelling at 30 km/h or less the probability of a road user surviving a collision with a motorist is nine out of 10, versus a survival rate of only two in 10 when the vehicle is travelling at 50 km/h or more.
In Toronto, a speed limit reduction on residential streets from 40 km/h to 30 km/h resulted in 28% fewer collisions, and fatalities or serious injuries dropped by 67%.
Kudos to Victoria and Saanich Councils for taking this significant step toward safety. The municipalities represent more than half the population of this region.
And now Oak Bay Council has also signed on for 30km/h speed limits on side streets!
Esquimalt, Sidney, Central Saanich and North Saanich were all ready to join a 40 km/h regional pilot last fall when Saanich proposed it but subsequently Saanich Council shifted to a lower speed target when residents asked for a more ambitious approach to safety.
Here’s hoping that those municipalities follow Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay for a 30 km/h side street speed limit in their communities, too, because slower really is safer for all of us, no matter where we live in this wonderful region