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City to look at lowering speed limit to 40 km/h

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The City of Winnipeg will explore the idea of reducing residential speed limits to 40 km/h -- a move that would require provincial approval.

City council's public works committee voted Tuesday to give city staff 90 days to consider the idea of reducing speeds on residential streets -- two-lane roads in residential neighbourhoods -- by 10 km/h.

The idea was raised by Couns. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) and Ross Eadie (Mynarski).

Dr. Lynne Warda of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority appeared before the committee to support the reduction, which she said would save lives.

The reduction of residential speeds in other cities has led to a measurable reduction in the severity of injuries resulting from vehicle-pedestrian and vehicle-bicycle collisions, she said.

Luis Escobar, the city's transportation manager, noted there's a difference between the posted speed limit and the speed people actually drive.

Reducing speed limits can provide a false sense of security, he said.

He said collisions causing injury have dropped from approximately 3,400 in 2001 to approximately 2,100 in 2010, even though the overall number of collisions has remained static.

Nonetheless, Couns. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface), Brian Mayes (St. Vital), Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) and Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge) voted in favour of studying the idea.

The public works committee also voted in favour of a water and waste recommendation against a plastic-bag ban in Winnipeg -- and voted to hold for a month on a plan to launch a study to create a regional transportation authority.

All four members of the committee criticized Winnipeg Transit for bringing forward terms of reference for a transportation authority only 24 hours before Tuesday's meeting.

Vandal said he cares more about the city than the capital region and questioned the direction of the study.

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