I am often reminded of the fact that I will be turning 40 years old next year. The older I get, the more I think about the kind of legacy I want to leave behind.
As I’ve started my second career as a city councillor, I often ponder the question — what can I do to make a difference? For me, the answer I keep coming back to is to make the future of my children, my family and Winnipeggers better and safer.
One of the most pressing issues we face in Winnipeg is that we have children, pedestrians and cyclists being involved in vehicle collisions and some are dying from their injuries.
Every day, I am reminded of the four-year-old girl who was struck by a vehicle and later died of her injuries in the hospital. Every day, I am reminded of when me and previous city councillor Mike Pagtakhan advocated for better safety measures at the pedestrian crosswalk at Isabel Street at Ross Avenue.
Every day, I ask myself if that four-year-old girl would be alive today if there was a traffic light at that intersection. Every day, when I look at my two children (six and nine years old), I can’t imagine a vehicle hitting them while they are walking or cycling to school or the local playground.
Right now, I find myself urging the chairman of infrastructure renewal and public works and the city’s public service to make better road safety initiatives a top priority.
I have called for another traffic study to be conducted along Isabel Street and asked, again, for traffic lights to be installed. The traffic control report of the public service concurred with the recommendation of the infrastructure renewal and public works committee and will be installing traffic lights before school is back in session this September.
While I am happy with the report and support it, we cannot continue to be reactive to situations like these anymore. Too many lives have been lost.
We must instead be proactive by starting to implement better road safety strategies/policies like curb bumps, red lights at pedestrian crossings instead of amber, and most of all a city-wide speed limit of 40 km/h on residential streets.
I know this is a controversial issue. Everyone’s time is valuable and getting where we need to go as quickly as possible isn’t something that I discount. But I believe the safety of our children and our families are invaluable.
I believe the key to this issue is road safety education. The idea behind lowering the speed limit is not about inconveniencing anyone. This is an opportunity to be proactive in keeping Winnipeggers alive and able to survive a collision.
In the event that someone breaks a traffic law, I ask you this simple question:
Would you rather have a 75 or 45 per cent chance of surviving any injuries?
Not only do I see the direct safety possibilities in these statistics, but I also believe lowering speed limits on residential streets will reduce drivers "cutting through" our neighbourhoods.
Lower speed limits enhance safety for all road users, as they make traffic more predictable. I encourage you to read more on how experts make these kinds of decisions in Manitoba Infrastructure’s Guide for Setting Speed Limits available here: www.gov.mb.ca/mit/traffic/pdf/speed/guide.pdf.
I believe when the facts are presented as I have done here, most people will see the benefits in lowered speed limits.
I am more than happy to continue to hear your feedback and comments.
You can send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org as I know you care about Winnipeg as much as I do.