(BlackburnNews.com file photo)

City eyes lower residential speed limit

While the province moves forward with a pilot project to boost speeds on three highways, city politicians are considering reducing how fast vehicles can travel on residential streets in London.

A report going to the civic works committee on Tuesday recommends lowing speed limits across neighbourhoods throughout the city to 40 km/h. Currently, the default speed limit within the city is 50 km/h unless posted otherwise.

“It is absolutely something I can get behind and support,” said Councillor Shawn Lewis. “I get complaints on a regular basis about people speeding through neighbourhoods, speeding through school zones. It is a real concern.”

City engineers who penned the report point to research that indicates the risk of pedestrian fatality when hit by a vehicle travelling at 40 km/h sits at 30 per cent. When a person is hit by a vehicle at 50 km/h the risk for fatal injury jumps to 70 per cent.

Reducing speed limits could also help the city stop drivers from using residential streets as shortcuts. That would keep those vehicles on major arterial roads, which are designed to carry large volumes of traffic at moderate speeds, engineers noted.

The report goes on to note any speed limit change has to be appropriate for the road and roadside environment. Lowering the speed by too much could result in more drivers travelling at a wider range of speeds, making it harder for pedestrians to judge an approaching vehicle’s speed. A speed limit too low can also distract drivers who end up becoming too focused on their speedometer.

“I think we have to be realistic,” said Lewis “We are not going to get compliance at 30 km/h. I know that the risk of serious injury drops even more at 30 km/h, but I think 40 km/h is a good balance point between people being able to effectively move through the neighbourhood and reducing the risk of injury.”

Changing the speed limit comes with a cost of $400,000 for the roughly 1,000 signs that would need to be posted at the beginning and end of each 40 km/h area. However, Lewis believes council could work to get that dollar figure lower.

“We were provided an example of what a community safety zone signage area might look like. I think we can actually designate some fairly significant sized community safety zones and perhaps bring that cost down a little bit in terms of signage,” said Lewis.

Before any speed limit change is made, staff recommend politicians consult with three of the city’s advisory groups – the transportation advisory committee, the community safety and crime prevention advisory committee, and the London Middlesex road safety committee. Public consultation is also suggested.

Speed limits around schools were reduced to 40 km/h in July 2016 by the previous council. The latest speed reduction being considered continues to build on London’s Vision Zero road safety strategy, aimed at eliminating all traffic deaths.

Photo radar is among the tools being considered to slow traffic through neighbourhoods.