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Committee rejects call for further study on lower speed limits

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A city committee rejected a call to do further study on how to get drivers to slow down on residential streets.

A new report, released this week, recommends Winnipeg not reduce the residential speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h.

The report said many studies conducted throughout North America have shown driver speed is affected by the road and not by speed-limit signs. While other cities such as Montreal and Edmonton have lowered the speed limit on some residential streets, the report said a study in Montreal concluded there was no significant drop in the average speeds. Similarly, the report said the results of a pilot project in Edmonton were inconclusive.

The report said some drivers will follow the lower speed limit while others will ignore it, which may increase the potential collisions between slower and faster drivers.

Several members of council said they were disappointed by the report's conclusions, including River Heights Coun. John Orlikow who said rejecting the idea of calming traffic on residential streets a "tragic mistake." This morning, health officials, cycling advocates and politicians told council's public works committee to do further review on how the city could reduce driver speeds and improve road safety.

Council's public works committee rejected the call and voted for the report recommending speed limits not be reduced to 40 km/h on residential streets.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's Dr. Sande Harlos said the report did not include statistics from other world cities which have seen significant reductions in injuries and fatalities after lowering speed limit, including Norway, which saw a 45 per cent drop in fatal collisions. She said Winnipeg should consider a reduced speed limit along with enforcement, public education and other ways to calm traffic to improve the safety and health of vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists.

"Certainly, it is an ongoing concern," Harlos said.

Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) said Winnipeg needs to do something to make sure drivers slow down. He said the city's plan to reduce speed in school zones will not help reduce speeds near parks and on through streets in older neighbourhoods.

While most drivers obey the limits, Eadie said he's worried about the ones who don't.

"I think we need to do more on this issue," Coun. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) said.

 

History

Updated on Friday, January 11, 2013 at 4:29 PM CST: Committee rejects the idea of further study.

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