Calgary Herald



There’s no doubt the safety of pedestrian­s is important, but the city’s convoluted efforts to prevent injuries and death is an accident waiting to happen. A city committee was recently urged to support a reduction in the residentia­l speed limit from 50 to 40 km/h, but administra­tors concede they don’t know what role speeding plays in the 350 to 400 vehicle-pedestrian accidents that occur in Calgary each year.

“I’m struggling on focusing on speed limits when we don’t have proper data,” said Coun. Ward Sutherland. “It’s very drastic — going to 40 km/h across the board.”

Said Coun. Peter Demong of the suggested speed limit reduction: “Until we have more evidence it performs the way we want it to, it’s hard to support. I’m more interested in investigat­ing what the root causes of the accidents were.”

Skeptical committee members also noted drivers on most of the residentia­l roads targeted rarely reach 50 km/h, and that the majority of serious collisions happen on routes that wouldn’t be included in the reduction.

There is some anecdotal evidence that supports slower speeds, but given the lack of clear proof, one would think the notion would be swiftly rebuffed, but not at City Hall. The proposal and other elements of a 50-point plan will be the subject of a public review, if council approves further deliberati­on at its May 2 meeting. A report would then go back to committee in November.

The package of measures — which also includes improved crosswalks, signage, lighting and snow removal, better education, more sidewalks and more audible walk signals — had previously been sent back for further work in January.

The capital cost of all these goodies is $15 million, with just $4 million of that amount accounted for. Alarmingly, the proposal calls for the hiring of 10 full-time employees to implement the strategy at a cost of more than $1 million. Don’t say the city isn’t doing what it can to create employment, even if it results in higher taxes.

Instead of financing more delays, council should end this costly charade when it meets next week. It should reject a reduction in the speed limit and focus on the basics, such as ensuring crosswalks are freshly painted so they can be readily seen by motorists. There are countless crosswalks in residentia­l areas that are barely visible because the paint has been allowed to fade.

Council should get on with reasonable and affordable measures that reduce pedestrian-automobile collisions. Endlessly delaying action isn’t going to prevent a single death or injury — and that’s what all this dithering was supposed to be about.

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