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Edmonton is planning for its future – to grow into a healthy city of 2 million people and a neighbourly city with community and personal wellness that embodies and promotes equity for all Edmontonians. Transformational change is needed to bring this vision to life. Traffic safety is at the heart of supporting a healthy city, livable urban places, and a prosperous regional economy. As part of this, the City is looking to lower speed limits in residential neighbourhoods and areas with high numbers of pedestrians, creating safe, livable streets for everyone.

Potential Changes to Speed Limits

Big picture, why the potential changes to some speed limits?

Edmonton is planning for its future — to grow into a healthy, urban and climate resilient city of 2 million people. Our goal is to be a neighbourly city with a strong sense of community and personal wellness that embodies and promotes equity for all Edmontonians. Transformational change is needed to bring this vision to life. Traffic safety is at the heart of supporting a healthy city, livable urban places, and a prosperous regional economy. 

As part of this, the City is looking to lower speed limits in residential neighbourhoods and areas with high numbers of pedestrians, creating safe, livable streets for everyone. Reducing residential speeds can make our streets calmer, quieter, and safer for people walking, biking, driving and enjoying their neighbourhood.

Safe, livable streets will help us reach our goal of Vision Zero; zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries in Edmonton.

When will the 40 km/h speed limit change be in effect?

Currently, a bylaw to change the default speed for residential roads in Edmonton to 40 km/h is before Council. 

The public will have an opportunity to comment and provide input at a Public Hearing where the applicable bylaws will be presented on November 4-5, 2020. Information on participating or viewing the public hearing can be found at edmonton.ca/meetings.

Under the Alberta Municipal Government Act, citizens may submit a petition to City Council to vote to determine whether the proposed bylaw should be passed. The process for submitting such a petition is set out in Sections 221 to 226 of the Act.

If Council passes the bylaw, the reduced speed limit can be implemented by summer 2021. During implementation, the City will roll-out a robust public awareness and education campaign to ensure everyone is aware of the change.

How much time is this going to add to my drive?

We know your time is important. Try the Estimated Time of Arrival tool to see how your trip time may change. Most people who have used it already found their travel time from their home to their destination did not significantly increase. This was because most of their traveling time was on arterial roads where higher speed limits were applied.

How will I know what the speed limit is?

After Council completes three readings of the applicable bylaws, the default speed limit on residential roads will be 40 km/h.

The City posts signs at locations where the speed limit must change, such as at playground zones, industrial/commercial areas and arterial roads. As well, once the bylaw is passed, an extensive, city-wide education campaign will take place.

Why is reducing the default speed limit a priority?

Safety is the priority. Speed limits are an important aspect of traffic safety because speed is a factor in the frequency and outcome of every collision. Slowing down while driving gives you more time to react to the unexpected and helps you avoid collisions. 

Reducing speeds can make our streets calmer, quieter, and safer for people walking, biking, driving and enjoying their neighbourhood. This creates a more comfortable environment for active modes of transportation, builds community trust and creates livable neighbourhoods.

Graphic showing the approximate survival rate if hit by a vehicle at several different speeds/

Will there be speed limit signs everywhere?

The City has developed a refreshed signage approach that will reduce the number of road signs on our streets wherever possible. 

How are we aligning with what other major cities in Canada (Calgary/Vancouver/Toronto/Montreal) are doing in regards to speed limits?

Many municipalities throughout Canada, the United States and the world are considering or have implemented reduced speed limits. The City reviewed best practices, studies and research to develop our implementation plans. How we approach reducing speed limits is based on how our City is designed and our strategic goals, as outlined within ConnectEdmonton and the upcoming City Plan.

Has the City decided to reduce speed limits in Edmonton?

On June 22, 2020, City Council passed the first reading of Charter Bylaw 19282, which under the Alberta Traffic Safety Act, indicates the City’s wish to reduce the city-wide default residential speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h.

In alignment with the bylaw, City Council also endorsed reducing the speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h for Jasper Avenue, Whyte Avenue and a number of high pedestrian areas.

Under the Alberta Municipal Government Act, citizens may submit a petition to City Council to vote to determine whether the proposed bylaw should be passed. The process for submitting such a petition is set out in Sections 221 to 226 of the Act.

The public will have an opportunity to comment and provide input at a Public Hearing where the applicable bylaws will be presented on November 4-5, 2020. Information on participating or viewing the public hearing can be found at edmonton.ca/meetings.

What public engagement has been done on this?

Administration has completed a review of integrated public engagement activities and results undertaken since 2018 that captured citizen input into traffic safety initiatives and provided insights into community priorities for renewal projects.

The Community and Public Service Committee held a non-statutory public hearing before the March 11 City Council meeting to garner further public insight into reducing speeds. Improving safety, mobility and accessibility are recurring themes that have emerged from these various forms of public engagement.

Types of Roads

Any changes for arterial roads?

Most arterial roads are not being reviewed for speed limit suitability. On March 11, 2020, City Council directed Administration to prepare appropriate bylaws to reduce speeds for the following Main Streets and high pedestrian locations:

  • Whyte Avenue - 109 Street to 99 Street
  • Jasper Avenue - 124 Street to 97 Street
  • Chinatown - 97 Street to 101 Street; 103A Avenue to 108A Avenue
  • North of Columbia Avenue (105 Avenue)
  • North south streets between 105 Avenue & 106 Avenue from 101 Street to 116 Street but not including 101 Street, 109 Street or 116 Street
  • South of Whyte Avenue (east/west avenue between Gateway and Calgary Trail)
  • Saskatchewan Drive - 110 Street to Emily Murphy Park)
  • Fortway Drive (River Valley Road to 107 Street)
Are there roads in residential areas that should stay at 50 km/h?

The City completed a systematic road network review to identify where reduced speed limits could increase safety and livability in Edmonton’s neighbourhoods. Roadways that would not support a lowered speed limit have been identified and will be exempt under the amended speed zone bylaw. 

The City evaluates appropriate speeds for roadways by considering the following factors: existing safety considerations, the presence of mixed transportation modes, adjacent land use, the presence of speed reduction zones, traffic volume and existing speed limit, the design intent and the primary use of the road.

Will speed limits in industrial and commercial areas change?

Yes, in some cases. When reviewing the road network, Administration has taken a refreshed approach to roads in Edmonton to ensure that the speed limit makes sense and ensures consistency. This means that there are some non-residential roads that were included in the speed limit reduction to 40 km/h. As this program is being implemented, we will be reviewing all roads on a case-by-case basis.

Why aren’t we increasing the speed limit on the Yellowhead/Anthony Henday/Whitemud?

The Anthony Henday is under Provincial jurisdiction; therefore, the City does not have control over its speed limit. Arterial roadways, including Yellowhead Trail and Whitemud Drive, all have maximum speed limits based upon the engineered design of the roadway such as widths, curves, sightlines and type and spacing of intersections or interchanges. The current speed limits on these roads have been determined as the highest speed we should travel for safety.

The Yellowhead Trail Freeway Conversion project includes changing the design for portions of the road. After completion, the redesign will safely allow an increase from the current speed of 70 km/h to 80 km/h.

Now that the speed limit is reduced to 40 km/h, will playground zones go away?

Edmonton will still have playground zones and the speed limit will remain at 30km/h within these locations to protect our most vulnerable road users, our children.

Enforcement

Speeding is already a problem in my neighbourhood - how will this help?

Safe speeds are a crucial aspect to achieving Vision Zero. Through the new Safe Mobility Strategy, the City will be developing a plan to address how we move throughout Edmonton that includes helping those using the transportation system to take responsibility and accountability for their actions.  

The City will be working closely with Edmonton Police Service to roll out a holistic enforcement approach, along with a public education and awareness campaign, to reinforce new driver expectations.

Is this just a cash-grab for the City?

Safety is the priority. The City uses automated enforcement to improve traffic safety. Enforcement is an important tool to improve traffic safety, and is combined with education, engineering, evaluation and engagement. 

Funds generated by photo enforcement are part of the Traffic Safety Automated Enforcement Reserve and do not go into general City revenues. Through the reserve, funds are reinvested back into traffic safety programs. Each year, Edmonton Police Service also receives a portion of the funds generated from automated enforcement.

Due to the Provincial Government's moratorium on new automated enforcement locations, no new automated enforcement locations are being considered at this time.

Will there be enforcement in my neighbourhood to make sure people follow the law?

The City works closely with the Edmonton Police Service and the University of Alberta to collect and analyze quantitative data to inform traffic safety actions. Together, we will review insights into how Edmontonians are moving through the transportation network and moving forward, we will begin to gather and use qualitative data to proactively achieve safety and livability goals while being responsive to problem locations. To successfully implement changes following the completion of bylaw readings, the City will be working closely with Edmonton Police Service to implement a holistic enforcement approach, along with a public education and awareness campaign, to reinforce new driver expectations.

Due to the Provincial Government's moratorium on new automated enforcement locations, no new automated enforcement locations are being considered at this time.

Vision Zero

What is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero is goal of zero traffic related serious injuries and fatalities in Edmonton.

Vision Zero is a multi-national traffic safety initiative that is reinventing traditional approaches to traffic safety, based on the philosophy that no one should be killed or seriously injured in the road transportation system. 

Vision Zero is not a slogan or even a program. It is a fundamentally different way to approach traffic safety. Traffic-related deaths and serious injuries are not inevitable. They are preventable.

How does this align with the goals of Vision Zero?

Speed is a factor in every collision so safe speeds are a crucial aspect of the Safe Systems Approach to achieving Vision Zero. The risk of fatality for people struck by a vehicle while walking increases dramatically as driver speed increases above 30 km/hr. 

Graphic showing the risk of fatal injury for a pedestrian colliding with a vehicle.

How do lower speeds ensure safety?

The City engaged the Urban Traffic Safety Research Chair at the University of Alberta to review existing speed and collision data in order to model potential outcomes related to reducing residential speed limits. The analysis included estimating anticipated injury and fatal collision reductions and quantifying the value of cost avoidance related to decreasing collisions. 

Safety is the priority. Speed limits are an important aspect of traffic safety because speed is a factor in the frequency and outcome of every collision, affecting both collision frequency and outcomes. Slowing down while driving gives you more time to react to the unexpected and helps avoid collisions.

The risk of fatality for people struck by a vehicle while walking increases dramatically as driver speed increases above 30 km/h.

Costs

How much will this change cost taxpayers?

The costs to implement new speed limit signs and deliver a robust public education and awareness campaign will be funded with funds generated from automated enforcement and will not be funded from tax levies. The estimated cost for reducing the speed limit to 40 km/h is $2.5 million. Every effort is made to reduce the number of signs and the cost to install them.

Should this be a priority given the state of the economy?

Traffic safety is a key mechanism for supporting a healthy city, liveable urban places, climate resilience and a prosperous regional economy and safe speeds are an important aspect of achieving Vision Zero goals through increased safety and livability.

Safe speeds positively impact both collision frequency and outcomes and increase active modes of travel, narrow inequities, create greater social inclusion and support community cohesion.

For More Information

311 Contact Centre

Online Contact 311 Online
Telephone

In Edmonton: 311
Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311

TTY 780-944-5555

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