Grassroots group calling for lower speed limits
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This article was published 15/04/2021 (780 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Speed limits have been a hot topic of discussion at City Hall and on the streets of Winnipeg lately.
Coun. Shawn Nason (Transcona) put forward a motion at the Jan. 5 meeting of the East Kildonan-Transcona community committee calling on the city to put the question of whether or not residential speed limits ought to be lowered from the current 50 km/h to a plebiscite as part of the 2022 municipal election.
“I have spoken to challenges of residential speed many times and floated ideas I’ve seen in my travels,” Nason said at the time.
“Changes to residential speed would impact all Winnipeggers, so I thought it might be prudent to have the question on the ballot.”
The motion, however, was defeated by a vote of 6-1 by the city’s executive policy committee, with Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) the lone councillor to vote in support.
On April 1, Browaty, who has long been a vocal opponent of lowering speed limits residentially, released results of a Probe Research poll that showed that 56 per cent of Winnipeggers rejected the idea of a blanket lowering of Winnipeg’s default speed limit.
“Speed limits are based on ideal road conditions,” Browaty said in a statement. “When there are factors such as when roads are wet, icy, when there’s parked cars to go around, or when there’s pedestrians or bikes on or near the street you are legally required to slow down.”
The poll also found that “those living in northeast Winnipeg are most likely to be against this idea, with support for reducing residential speed limits highest in the core area.”
While Browaty called the results of the poll as a clear message rejecting a change in residential speed limit, proponents of lower speeds were encouraged by the results showing 44 per cent of Winnipeggers supported lowering the limit. Of the 56 per cent who expressed opposition, only 36 per cent were “strongly” opposed to it, while the other 20 per cent of respondents were only “somewhat” opposed to a change.
SafeSpeedsWpg is a grassroots organization. Like the World Health Organization and the United Nations, the local group is calling for residential speed limits to be reduced to 30 km/h. The group points to data published by the UN, showing that a speed limit of “30 km/h streets where people and traffic mix help prevent road traffic deaths and promote physical activity because when streets are safe, people walk and cycle more.”
Holly Poklitar, a resident of the Rossmere area in North Kildonan, supports the call for a reduction in the residential speed limit and has one of SafeSpeedWpg’s signs in her yard.
“The science supports lowering the speed limits for safety reasons,” Poklitar said. “Lower speed means better community. It’s calmer for walking, and safer for everybody of all ages.”
Poklitar acknowledged that lowering the speed limit might not be a popular decision, but added that decisions made with regard to improving public safety need not be popular.
“We used to be OK with things like smoking indoors and not wearing a seatbelt,” she said. “We elect politicians to make the best decisions on behalf of society. They might not be the most popular decisions, and they’re not necessarily the most convenient decisions. But they’re the decisions that make society better overall.”
Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112