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Speed limit dropping to 30 km/h on some Saanich residential streets

Mayor Dean Murdock says the new speed limits are a significant step toward slowing traffic in residential areas, which will save lives
The speed limit on Interurban has been reduced to 40 km/h. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

New signs are set to pop up in Saanich in the next few weeks as the district enacts the next phase of its speed-reduction program: reducing limits on some of its busier residential streets to 30 km/h.

Saanich council unanimously approved bylaw amendments for the move this week.

Mayor Dean Murdock said the new speed limits are a significant step toward slowing traffic in residential areas, which will save lives.

“We know that reduced speeds alone, or new traffic signs alone, are not going to be the solution to improving road safety in Saanich,” he said. “It’s a combination of speed reduction, design enforcement and ensuring that we’re all committed to the outcome of Vision Zero, which is eliminating deaths and serious injuries on our roads.”

Vision Zero, first adopted in Sweden in 1997, aims to reach zero road fatalities through better road design, speed ­reduction and other measures.

Last April, Saanich reduced speed limits to between 25 km/h and 40 km/h on nine traffic corridors with a continuous yellow centre line.

This time, the new limits will be applied to a number of residential streets, including ones in the Tillicum neighbourhood, the Lansdowne panhandle, Lochside Drive, Tolmie Avenue, Brookleigh Road, Burnside Road East and West, Tattersall Drive, Carey Road, Gordon Head Road, Glanford Avenue, Blenkinsop/Maplewood Road, Cedar Hill Road, Columbine Way and Interurban Road.

A limit of 60 km/h will be implemented on Willis Point Road and portions of West Saanich Road, while speed on roads around the University of Victoria campus — Ring Road, McGill Road and parts of Gabriola Road and Finnerty Road — will be limited to 40 km/h.

“This is a really significant step in identifying appropriate speeds on our neighbourhood roads where kids are playing, where people are walking their dogs,” said Murdock. “A lot of these are streets that don’t have sidewalks or safe places for people to walk. By slowing those cars down, it eliminates the potential for fatalities on our neighbourhood streets.”

Coun. Colin Plant said he expects there will be some resistance to the reduced limit of 40 km/h on Interurban Road, due to the amount of traffic it handles, but he would prefer to be on a council that errs on the side of caution.

According to a district report, a collision involving a car travelling at 50 km/h or greater is more likely to result in a death, while slower speeds contribute to improved comfort for pedestrians and cyclists, less noise and less severe outcomes when collisions occur.

Collisions with vulnerable road users at 30 km/h or less correlate with a 10 per cent probability of death, compared with a 30 per cent probability of death at 40 km/h or 85 per cent at 50 km/h.

Murdock admits enforcement is an issue, given the strained resources of the Saanich police. But the posted speed change is as much about awareness-raising as it is about enforcement, he said.

“We’re posting these limits to raise awareness about what a safe travelling speed is and why it’s important that we do that.”

The default speed limit for municipal streets in B.C. is 50 km/h, but municipal councils have the authority to set speed limits on roads under their jurisdiction.

Saanich and Victoria have been pushing toward a default speed of 30 km/h for streets without a continuous yellow centre line as well as those where a bikeway exists or is proposed.

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