News / Edmonton

'A benefit for all children': City approves slower playground speed limits

City councillors unanimously voted to reduce speed limits around playgrounds to 30km/hr

Students cross the streets outside of Westminster Jr High.

Metro file / Metro file

Students cross the streets outside of Westminster Jr High.

After a lengthy debate city councillors unanimously approved a plan to reduce speed limits around Edmonton's 435 playgrounds to 30 km/hr on Tuesday.

Currently, drivers must go 30 km/hr near schools, but can speed up to 50 km/hr once they reach the play area.

Instead of calling them school zones, the city will start referring to all areas under the new lower limit as playground zones.

“I think... unanimous support shows that council is really dedicated to showing support for Vision Zero,” said Gord Sebryk, branch manager for parks and road services.

“What we are looking for is awareness," he said, "which is really about improving safety in the city for vulnerable road users as well as all road users,” he said.

Vision Zero is a goal adopted by the City of Edmonton to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries to zero.

Administration requested a budget of approximately $1 million for the implementation.

The budget will cover installation of yellow reflective tape around signs, signs that display a driver's speed, as well as sign alerts that use LED flashing lights which are activated when drivers approach the signs.

But some councillors weren't convinced that changing speed limits and installing signs would actually help.

Coun. Mike Nickel read a study from Winnipeg where they decided not to change speed limits as it suggested that “speed limits that are inconsistent with driver expectations can lead to driver frustration. Some drivers will obey the lower speed limit while others will think it’s unreasonable therefore ignore it."

Despite their reservations, council voted 13-0 in favour of the new limits.

“I’m surprised that it seemed to change some people’s minds,” said Coun. Ben Esslinger. “But you know maybe it’s a sober second thought or hearing the discussion so I’m very pleased that people saw the need to have playground zones."

The implementation of playground speed limits is expected to happen by the end of the year.

"I think is going to be a benefit for all children in Edmonton," Esslinger said.

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