Vancouver to test 30 km/h speed limit

VANCOUVER — Residential streets in Vancouver — and, potentially, other B.C. municipalities — could soon start to move a little slower.

Vancouver city council voted unanimously Tuesday to move ahead with a pilot project to reduce the speed limit on certain side streets to 30 km/h, down from 50 km/h.

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Council directed city staff to identify a local street or area in Vancouver for the pilot, and report back this year with an implementation strategy and proposed road design.

The motion, titled “Safer Slower Streets” and initially introduced in April by Green Coun. Pete Fry, also seeks to lobby the provincial government, through the Union of B.C. Municipalities, to change the Motor Vehicle Act to allow municipalities to implement blanket speed zones in residential areas.

Addressing council, Fry said some North American cities such as Portland, Oregon, and several cities in Europe have already reduced speed limits on side streets, and in those jurisdictions “everyone is fine, and people still get to work on time.”

Fry was inspired by a visit several years ago to Portland, where he saw community-led, traffic calming measures, he said.

“They went with really simple grassroots approaches to just really remind folks: ‘This is our public realm, this is where our kids play street hockey, this is where I’m teaching my daughter how to ride a bicycle,’ ” Fry said. “ ‘This is where people live, it’s not just a place for cars.’ ”

In 2013, Victoria was unsuccessful in a bid to have the UBCM endorse a default municipal speed limit reduction to 40 km/h, from 50 km/h.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps has said she supports the concept of having lower default speeds on local streets.

— With file from the Times Colonist

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