Driv­ers tak­ing it slow

Study finds speed re­duc­tion, fewer pedes­tri­ans struck since play­ground zone re­form

Calgary Sun - - NEWS - MEGHAN POTKINS mpotkins@post­media.com @mpotkins

The city’s de­ci­sion to har­mo­nize school and play­ground zones re­sulted in driv­ers slow­ing down and may have con­trib­uted to fewer over­all col­li­sions in Cal­gary, ac­cord­ing to a new study.

The Univer­sity of Cal­gary study looked at speeds, col­li­sion rates and over­all com­pli­ance and aware­ness of the rules be­fore and after the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the city’s stan­dard­ized ap­proach to school and play­ground zones in 2014.

The av­er­age speed de­creased from 35.9 km/h to 30.1 km/h in play­ground and school zones after the changes, ac­cord­ing to the anal­y­sis of city data.

The col­li­sion rate across the city also de­creased dur­ing that time.

“How can you not be happy with those re­sults?” said Coun. Shane Keat­ing, chair of the city’s trans­porta­tion com­mit­tee. “It just means the safety is that much bet­ter.”

In 2014, the city dropped school zones and re­placed them with play­ground zones in ef­fect from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. all year, with a speed limit of 30 km/h. The city al­lo­cated $545,000 for new sig­nage in Cal­gary’s 180 school zones and those changes were com­pleted by fall 2015.

The traf­fic study, pub­lished on the city’s web­site, sug­gests changes to the traf­fic rules suc­ceeded in re­duc­ing speeds.

Re­searchers gath­ered data on driver speeds from 11 play­ground zones and 18 school zones through­out the city be­tween September 2013 and June 2017.

The data found that the av­er­age speeds were “sig­nif­i­cantly less” fol­low­ing the pol­icy change.

The study also looked at data on col­li­sions, sug­gest­ing the new con­sis­tent zone times “might have helped” to re­duce the col­li­sion rate.

And fewer pedes­tri­ans un­der the age of 16 years old were in­volved in col­li­sions three years after the new pol­icy was im­ple­mented, the study found.

When coun­cil first be­gan de­bat­ing the changes, con­cerns were raised by Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi and oth­ers about the rules go­ing too far, re­quir­ing driv­ers to slow down even when school wasn’t in ses­sion.

“I know a lot of people were ini­tially wor­ried about (ex­tend­ing) later in the evenings and go­ing all year, rather than just school days,” Keat­ing said.

“But I think this shows that once the con­fu­sion is gone, you get into a pat­tern of be­hav­iour and that pat­tern of be­hav­iour has cer­tainly im­proved the safety across the city.”

Be­fore 2014, there were dif­fer­ent rules for the dif­fer­ent zones and driv­ers would have to ad­just their speed in play­ground zones depend­ing when sun­set oc­curred.

A sur­vey com­pleted as part of the study pub­lished this month sug­gested the changes made it eas­ier for driv­ers to re­mem­ber the rules.

More than 80 per cent of re­spon­dents found it eas­ier to re­mem­ber the zone times when there was only one time that was con­sis­tent through­out the week, ac­cord­ing to the study.

Keat­ing said he’s seen two pedes­trian deaths in his ward since he was elected and he en­cour­ages driv­ers to slow down in all res­i­den­tial ar­eas, not just play­ground zones.

“You don’t want to see those,” Keat­ing said. “And it’s not just the deaths, but the in­juries as well.” “The way I look at it is, it’s such a small thing in our be­hav­iour as a driver to watch out for pedes­tri­ans in res­i­den­tial ar­eas.”

That pat­tern of be­hav­iour has cer­tainly im­proved the safety across the city.” Ward 12 Coun. Shane Keat­ing

DAR­REN MAKOWICHUK/Post­media

Cal­gary’s move to har­mo­nize lower-speed school and play­ground zones has re­sulted in speed re­duc­tions and fewer col­li­sions, says a Univer­sity of Cal­gary re­port pre­sented to city hall.

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