COUN­CIL’S BLAN­KET AP­PROACH TO SPEED­ING LACKS COM­MON SENSE

Calgary Herald - - CITY + REGION - LICIA CORBELLA lcor­[email protected]

Whoa! Slow down, Cal­gary city coun­cil. Slam on the brakes to your plan of low­er­ing speed lim­its in all res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hoods by 20 km/ h.

Coun. Druh Far­rell’s mo­tion in favour of low­er­ing res­i­den­tial speed lim­its from 50 km/ h to 30 km/ h is tak­ing things too fast on the is­sue of slow­ing down. City coun­cil had a heavy agenda Mon­day and it was de­cided to put off de­bate on this is­sue un­til Tues­day. Whew! Saved by the clock.

How­ever, one of the com­mu­nity ac­tivists who helped get coun­cil rush­ing down this road of across-the-board slow­ness is not push­ing for a city-wide slow­down at all and nei­ther should city coun­cil­lors.

Leah Mur­ray, a mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gist who lives in the south­west com­mu­nity of Gar­ri­son Green, says she doesn’t think slow­ing down traf­fic to 30 km/ h in all res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hoods is nec­es­sary. But, she does want the city to hurry up when it comes to solv­ing se­ri­ous is­sues of speed­ing that arise in spe­cific ar­eas of con­cern.

In other words — like most of us — Mur­ray wants city coun­cil to deftly use a scalpel to solve le­git­i­mate con­cerns in our city rather than a chain­saw. On Fo­rand Street, where Mur­ray lives, half of the street al­ready has a limit of 30 km/ h and the other half — where the real safety is­sues for kids ex­ists — sits at 50 km/h.

Mur­ray says when the road was closed re­cently — while the new ATCO build­ing off Crowchild Trail was be­ing built — Ward 11 Coun­cil­lor Brian Pin­cott told the com­mu­nity that the road would be­come 30 km be­cause of the nearby park. But when the road was re­opened, the posted speed was 50 km/ h.

The com­mu­nity, filled with young fam­i­lies, com­plained. The city re­sponded that the road didn’t meet the cri­te­ria for a 30 km/ h zone.

How­ever, the city then built a bas­ket­ball court near the road, which should mean the road now qual­i­fies as one that could have a speed limit of 30 km/h, “but the city won’t re-ad­dress it,” said Mur­ray.

If the city’s bu­reau­cracy was more flex­i­ble to ad­dress re­peated con­cerns for safety in unique neigh­bour­hoods, even if ev­ery needed cri­te­ria was not al­ways met, then th­ese blan­ket-type so­lu­tions — such as the one cur­rently be­ing de­bated — would not be needed.

An ex­cep­tion to all of the rules should be made for Fo­rand Street, for in­stance, be­cause it is both an on-ramp and off-ramp to Crowchild Trail, where the speed limit is 80 km/ h and driv­ers are ei­ther ve­loc­i­t­ized com­ing off the high­way or ac­cel­er­at­ing to join it.

“A cou­ple of neigh­bours and I have seen kids push the but­ton and start walk­ing through the cross­walk and cars will gun it so they don’t have to stop,” ex­plained Mur­ray, who has two grand­chil­dren, aged three and one, liv­ing on the same block. “There have been some close calls.

“If you wave at th­ese dan­ger­ous driv­ers, then you get the fin­ger. I’ve been called an old hag, some­one called me a b----, some­one tried to run my neigh­bour down be­cause they were mad that he tried to make them slow down. The driver yelled, ‘What do you want me to do, slow down to 25?’ And my neigh­bour said, ‘Well, when some­one is cross­ing the cross­walk, yes.’”

Ac­tu­ally, the rule of the road is when some­one en­ters a cross­walk, driv­ers must wait un­til the pedes­trian reaches the other side be­fore the driver can pro­ceed.

Clearly, one only has to visit Fo­rand Street to re­al­ize — cri­te­ria or not — that the speed limit should be re­duced. The unique as­pects of that com­mu­nity and that stretch of road make that ob­vi­ous.

Com­mon sense — ap­plied even in small doses — could save the en­tire city from be­ing sad­dled with Coun. Druh Far­rell’s solution look­ing for a prob­lem rather than the other way around.

Coun. Shane Keat­ing said he in­tends to in­tro­duce an amend­ment to Far­rell’s mo­tion rec­om­mend­ing that in­stead of drop­ping the speed limit on res­i­den­tial roads by a whop­ping 20 km/ h, it should be low­ered by just 10 km/ h to 40 km/ h on roads with­out painted lines on them. All res­i­den­tial roads with painted lines on them would re­main at 50 km/ h ex­cept in play­ground zones, where the speed limit will re­main at 30 km/ h.

Of course pedes­tri­ans stand a much bet­ter chance of sur­vival if they’re struck by a ve­hi­cle trav­el­ling at 30 km/ h ver­sus 50, as many pro­po­nents of low­er­ing the speed limit have said. They also stand a much bet­ter chance of sur­viv­ing if that car is only trav­el­ling at one km/ h, too.

Where there are peo­ple, pets and par­tic­u­larly chil­dren near a road, driv­ers should smarten up and slow down. As for coun­cil, it should throw this baby into re­verse when it comes to im­ple­ment­ing any change to the speed limit and ad­dress spe­cific neigh­bour­hoods of con­cern in­stead.

One size never fits all. Nei­ther does one speed.

AL CHAREST

Coun­cil will de­bate on Tues­day a no­tice of mo­tion seek­ing to lower the speed limit on neigh­bour­hood streets to 30 km/h.

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