City report urges permanently reduced speed limits on some streets Pilot program’s four ‘neighbourhood greenways,’ 10 enhanced summer bike routes would keep vehicles to 30 km/h
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City staff believe the current pace of life on 14 Winnipeg streets should be reduced permanently.
A report recommends that four “neighbourhood greenways,” where the speed limit was reduced from 50 km/h to 30 km/h in a pilot program, along with 10 of the 2022 enhanced summer bike routes, have the reduced speed applied 24/7.
All 14 would be permanently declared neighbourhood greenways — on-street routes that typically use reduced speeds and traffic-calming measures to “comfortably and safely move cyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles,” the report says.
All of the changes would require city council approval and be implemented over the next two years.
Council’s public works chairwoman supports the plan.
“There’s a huge awareness that in order to keep healthy, you need to keep mobile (through active transportation),” said Coun. Janice Lukes. “(And) this is a far more cost-effective way (to provide safe AT options) than constructing separated bike lanes, which we can’t construct in some parts of the city.”
Lukes (Waverley West) believes traffic-calmed streets will help residents living in increasing-density neighbourhoods, a priority she says trumps potential traffic delays.
“It takes seconds more to go from 50 km/h to 30 km/h (per commute)… I don’t think that’s the end of the world, really — a few more seconds to get where you’re going to provide a higher quality of livability in our neighbourhoods,” she said.
“At every single public works committee meeting (for years)… there (are) requests for traffic-calming speed humps and stop signs to slow down traffic.”
Winnipeggers appear to have mixed views on the change. Online and pop-up event consultations about the neighbourhood greenway pilot project found 59 per cent of residents who lived on an affected street supported making the speed reduction permanent. The number dropped to 48 per cent support among nearby residents.
Conversely, 70 per cent of other road users opposed a permanent speed reduction.
The feedback from 587 people isn’t statistically representative and doesn’t have a margin of error.
One Winnipeg driver told the Free Press the change would create unnecessary delays.
“It’s ridiculous… I understand that 30 km/h is lower than 50. I understand that 10 km/h is even lower. Where do we stop?” said Derek Rolstone. “Secondly, I think this is another cash grab for the city because they need to get more revenue, and this is another way to do that.”
By contrast, a Winnipegger who has advocated to reduce the residential speed limit deemed the proposal “fantastic.”
“Any kind of space that is dedicated for people to be riding a bike or walking, where they’re sharing the space with motor traffic, should be 30 km/h. That’s just best practice,” said Ian Walker, chairman of Safe Speeds Winnipeg.
Walker said opposition to the idea is expected, as Winnipeg was largely designed for universal driving.
Slowing down drivers is key to making routes more welcoming and safe for other forms of travel, he said.
“At 30 km/h, a pedestrian or cyclist has about a 90 per cent chance of surviving a collision and is likely not to be seriously injured. Whereas at a 50 km/h speed, if somebody is crashed into by a motor vehicle, they’re likely going to be killed … or seriously injured,” said Walker.
If council approves the changes, staff expect to devote about $700,000 from existing cycling and road-safety funding to add traffic-calming measures to the greenways.
City staff are also calling for the expansion of 30 km/h speed limits as a new standard for neighbourhood greenway routes in the future.
While 10 of the enhanced summer bike routes in place last year will be converted to neighbourhood greenways, enhanced summer bike routes will continue on sections of Churchill Drive, Kilkenny Drive, Kings Drive, Lyndale Drive, Wellington Crescent and Wolseley Avenue.
The routes that will remain in that program will continue indefinitely to allow for further traffic study.
The enhanced summer bike route program originated as “open streets,” to provide pedestrians and cyclists more room by limiting vehicle access to one block at set hours each day, roughly from spring to fall.
The city later learned inviting pedestrians to use the routes violated the Highway Traffic Act, shifting the focus to cyclists and changing the name of the program.
For routes proposed to continue as enhanced summer bike routes, the city will apply reduced speed limits of 30 km/h or 40 km/h, plus some time-limited turn restrictions, one-block travel restrictions and/or road closures for motor vehicles, which will vary by route. Reduced speed limits will apply for a 24-hour basis between May 1 and Thanksgiving Day each year.
Some other restrictions would apply on weekends and statutory holidays during May, June, September and October, as well as all days throughout July and August.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.
The ‘green’ 14
The city report recommends the following 2022 enhanced summer bike routes become permanent speed-reduced neighbourhood greenways:
• Egerton Road between the southern terminus and Morier Avenue
• Alexander Avenue between Arlington Street and Princess Street
• Youville Street between Marion Street and Haig Avenue
• Ruby Street from Palmerston Avenue to Portage Avenue and Banning Street from Portage Avenue to Notre Dame Avenue
• Kildonan Drive between Helmsdale Avenue and the northern terminus
• Ravelston Avenue between Wayoata Street and Plessis Road
• Linwood Street between Portage Avenue and Silver Avenue
• Harbison Avenue West between Henderson Highway and the eastern terminus
• Rover Avenue between Hallet Street and Angus Street
• Scotia Street and St. Cross Street between Armstrong Avenue and Anderson Avenue, including one-block segments on Leila Avenue, Marymound Way, Forrest Avenue and Cathedral Avenue
The city report recommends the following routes tested in a reduced-speed neighbourhood greenway pilot project receive the same permanent reduced speed:
• Eugenie Street, from St. Mary’s Road to Youville Street
• Warsaw Avenue, from Thurso Street to Pembina Highway
• Machray Avenue, from Fife Street to Main Street
• Powers Street, from Dufferin Avenue to Partridge Avenue