Tomorrow the Victoria City Council is holding a public hearing on their grand plan to reduce speed limits in Victoria. The scheme calls for amending the Streets & Traffic Bylaw to lower the speed limit in the downtown core as well as several main arterial roads from 50 km/h to 40 km/h. It would also reduce the Cook Street Village area between Dallas & Southgate where I live to 30 km/h. This is problematic and unwarranted for several reasons:
1) Following the original proposal to reduce speed limits, professional city staff were tasked with conducting studies and reporting their findings. In April, Victoria’s Transportation Manager Brad Dellebuur presented the staff report which concluded that “…there is no technical data to support the reduction in speed limits on the arterials.”
2) The 2014 report’s final recommendation was to maintain the existing speed limits.
3) The Institute of Traffic Engineering (ITE) has concluded that drivers set their own speed relative to the environment around them and that “posted limits which are set higher or lower than dictated by roadway and traffic conditions are ignored by the majority of motorists.”
4) Deviating from the standard 50 km/h is dangerous as ITE also found that crashes “…appear to depend less on speed and more on the variation in speeds. The likelihood of a crash occurring is significantly greater for motorists travelling at speed slower or faster than the mean speed of traffic”
5) The data collected by city workers on the arterial roads specifically in question found that 50 km/h was appropriate.
6) Simply changing the signage in an area like James Bay as a pilot project would cost ~$65,000 which is $40,000 more than the annual budget for traffic order installation in the entire city.
7) The Victoria Police Department does not support a reduction in speed limits.
8) The City’s website claims “Lowering speeds on residential roads may reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and use of fossil fuels.” While this may be true in the case of a 1965 Mustang with no catalytic converter, it is simply incorrect in this era.
Despite all of the above, Victoria City Council seems intent on pushing ahead with a reduction in the speed limits, ignoring the science, the professional staff, the police department, and common sense.
If you are available on Thursday July 17th for the 7:00pm City Council meeting, as I unfortunately am not, I urge you to attend and have your voice heard.
We cannot stand for a council that ignores the facts.