April 4, 2020

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Winnipeg Free Press

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City committee hopes reducing obstacles will speed up traffic-calming requests

It could soon be a little easier to get a speed bump or other traffic-calming measures installed in your neighbourhood.

City council’s public works committee approved a new process on Tuesday, after being informed the current method has a low success rate. The proposed policy still requires full council approval.

Under the current system, a Winnipegger must persuade at least 70 per cent of homeowners affected by the desired speed bump to sign a petition in support of the change. The new system would reduce that threshold to 25 per cent.

While any proposal would still have to satisfy strict engineering requirements to get the green light, city transportation manager David Patman expects the new process will make requests more successful.

Traffic-calming solutions could now include speed tables, curb extensions, traffic circles, road-narrowing and other treatments. (Ken Gigliotti / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Traffic-calming solutions could now include speed tables, curb extensions, traffic circles, road-narrowing and other treatments. (Ken Gigliotti / Winnipeg Free Press files)

"We know traffic calming is one of those issues that’s growing in importance. More and more people want to look at traffic calming in their neighbourhoods," Patman said.

"We still want to see that there’s some buy-in, some local support for a project before it goes forward but (the 25 per cent requirement is) a lot less onerous then requiring 70 per cent."

The new process would allow requests to be made by a citizen, 311 inquiry, city councillor or staff. The public service would then screen the proposed site’s speed limits, traffic volume and other factors to ensure they are conducive to the change.

Projects that pass that hurdle would be prioritized based on a site’s collision history, traffic volumes and safety concerns.

"We know traffic calming is one of those issues that’s growing in importance. More and more people want to look at traffic calming in their neighbourhoods." — City transportation manager David Patman

The top priorities would then proceed to a design and public engagement process to determine which type of traffic-calming tool could work best. Finally, a speed bump or other recommended traffic-calming measure could either be tested as a pilot project or permanently implemented.

That new process is expected to consider a greater variety of options to slow down traffic, since only speed bumps were considered in the past.

Patman said final traffic-calming solutions could now also include speed tables, curb extensions, traffic circles, road-narrowing and other road treatments.

"Our new process opens up a big menu of different options for traffic calming," he said.

Patman said each individual project would still require council approval.

Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface), who chairs the public works committee, said he hopes council will support the changes.

It will be easier for Winnipeggers to apply for barriers, speed bumps and roundabouts. (Jeff De Booy / Winnipeg Free Press files)

It will be easier for Winnipeggers to apply for barriers, speed bumps and roundabouts. (Jeff De Booy / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Allard noted dozens of Winnipeggers did secure 70 per cent of their neighbours’ signatures to push for a speed bump under the current system only to learn the proposed site didn’t meet city requirements. For example, the city would only add speed bumps on residential streets that don’t also serve as a transit route, a snow route or a residential collector street. A minimum number of vehicles also needed to be seen exceeding the speed limit to qualify the site for a speed bump.

As a result, few traffic-calming requests were granted between 2015 and 2018. During that period, 32 of 156 requests for local streets met the 70 per cent petition threshold but none were implemented because the areas weren’t deemed suitable. For back lanes, 14 requests were filed but only two were granted.

Allard said he expects simplifying the process could pave the way for more requests.

"I think this is going to result in more demand for traffic calming in neighbourhoods," he said.

joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

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.

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