City council’s transportation committee has given the go-ahead to city staff to continue exploring the possibility of lowering residential speed limits in Saskatoon.
The committee voted 3-2 in favour of setting up a framework for reviewing the base speed limits on neighbourhood streets, while leaving collector and arterial roads along.
The framework would still give city council final say on any decisions regarding lowering speed limits.
Councillors who voted in favour of the review — Cynthia Block, Bev Dubois and Mayor Charlie Clark — emphasized that their vote wasn’t necessarily an endorsement of a blanket 30 kilometre per hour speed limit, which was advocated in the city report.
“I would find it hard to imagine a day that I would think 30 km/h on most residential streets would be reasonable,” Ward 6 Coun. Cynthia Block said.
“However, it does appear the trend across many North American cities is to re-prioritize the public realm to better serve pedestrians.”
Manager of Transportation Engineering Jay Magus told committee both Calgary and Edmonton are exploring the possibility of lowering posted speeds, while cities such as Okotoks Alta. and Warman have already lowered theirs to 40 km/h.
The report was borne out of results of over 40 traffic reviews where residents expressed concerns that drivers were speeding on their street.
However, in most cases city data showed 85 per cent or more of drivers were driving below, at or just five kilometres over the 50 km/h posted speed.
The report suggested the continued perception of speeding could mean 50 km/h was too fast on residential roads.
It suggests a structure for reviewing speeds in neighbourhoods, while leaving arterial roads like Taylor Street alone.
Ward 5 Coun. Randy Donauer voted against looking at speed limits, along with Ward 10’s Zach Jeffries.
“Most residents want the traffic to go slower on their street but when you turn around and ask them if they want the speed limit to be lower in the neighbourhood they say no,” Donauer said.
He added he’s received several calls from residents telling him not to lean towards lowering speed limits.
Committee also voted 4-1 in favour of having administration review school zones and the possibility of implementing playground zones.
Magus told councillors his staff have discovered having 30 km/h school zones around high schools may not be “best practice” after reviewing other cities and their policies.
Block said after the meeting she doesn’t understand why high schools require the zones.
“Without a lot of evidence to the contrary, I think our young people are able to cross the street by themselves,” she said.
“I think they’ll be okay.”
Donauer voted against the school zone study, saying he thinks Saskatoon has reached a “nice balance” on the issue.
A proposal by Coun. Dubois to consider traffic calming measures in areas with high senior citizen populations was endorsed unanimously.