Update On Residential Speed Zones

Over the past few years, my colleagues on Council and I have heard an overwhelming request from communities asking that we look into lowering speed limits in residential neighbourhoods.

As a result of the feedback from many residents, discussion, research from administration, and because Edmonton is a Vision Zero City, Council is deliberating on whether or not to change speed limits in neighbourhoods to 40km/h throughout the entire City so that every community can become safer or lowering speed limits in the city’s Core Zone to 30km/h. We are considering these decisions because we want to use all the tools in our toolbox to keep road users safe, no matter the method they interact with the road.

We recognize that some neighbourhood collector roads were designed to be driven faster than 40km/h, and so, we will be looking at them on an individual basis and adjusting them accordingly.

Making changes to infrastructure and traffic-safety culture takes time, however, we will begin the process by implementing the 5 E’s of traffic safety:

Engagement: We want to make sure we hear from residents and make a plan based on feedback and best practices. We began looking into this plan because of the many residents who have contacted us over the years asking for speed limits to be lowered in residential neighbourhoods.

Education:Along with any new changes to our bylaws it’s important that we teach drivers and other road users about the new rules and allow time for adjustment.

Engineering:We want to build roads in a way that will encourage people to slow down naturally. We will continue to add safety elements such as crosswalks and flashing lights where needed as well as look into other speed reduction options.

Enforcement:Once there has been a time of adjustment we will begin to enforce the new rules for those who refuse to comply using photo radar. Council cannot direct the police, however, EPS will conduct their own enforcement.

Evaluation: We will look at how everything is working and make tweaks where they need to be made while listening to residents’ concerns.

We are still in the process of collecting feedback. If you would like to share your thoughts please feel free to register to speak on the city website.

Traffic Safety Is Speeding Up

The issues around traffic safety are coming before council again in February. Safety will be at the center of this discussion and it is important that we are all aware how very complex it is. We have heard from residents consistently that safety in neighbourhoods is important.

The challenge in this is, of course, everyone supports safety but no one likes to be inconvenienced. As this issue comes to council in February, this is going to be a challenging conversation, the priority needs to be common sense spending with fiscal restraint. Balancing the approach to safety with residential speed, with more crosswalks, left-turn lights, and other methods of control.

Safety is the priority. Speed limits are an important aspect of traffic safety because speed is an undeniable factor in the frequency and outcome of every collision. Slowing down while driving gives drivers more time to react to the unexpected and helps them to avoid collisions. Reducing residential speeds can contribute to safe, livable streets and help us reach our goal of Vision Zero. Reducing speed limits can make our streets calmer, quieter, and safer for people walking, biking, driving, and enjoying their neighborhood. This impacts the quality of living all over our great city.

Currently, the City is considering 2 different approaches to reducing speed limits. The first, a default speed limit of 40 km/h for residential roads throughout Edmonton. The second, a default speed limit of 30 km/h for residential roads within the Core Zone, made up of the neighborhoods in central Edmonton. Stretching from 118th Ave to 61st Ave and 142nd St to 75th St.

The City is also considering reducing speed limits on main streets such as Whyte Avenue, Jasper Avenue, and other high pedestrian areas.

We know your time is important and the City’s goal is to make changes that have very little impact on trip times. Don’t worry, the speed limits on major roads you use to get around the city are not changing.

Your input is valued and any adjustments to the existing speed limits will require final approval by City Council. You have a voice and it is valuable! You can provide your input on speed limit changes on February 26. This is where Administration will present information on each approach to Council at the Community and Public Services Committee.

You can find more information at edmonton.ca/safespeeds.

Winter Is Upon Us!

Winter is in full swing which means the Holiday season is upon us and we are knocking on the door of the New Year! It’s an exciting season!

But, once the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping has died down, once we’ve recovered from the chaos of Black Friday, holiday parties, and in-laws, what do we do with our time?

Edmonton is a winter city. We have big winters. This means we always have great options to get outdoors and have a blast with tons of family-friendly options and activities.

Here are just a few of the amazing and fun things available for family-friendly excitement in January and beyond!

Triple Down Terrain park Competition Series

A fun freestyle competition for all ages! Rabbit Hill Snow Resort (January 19), Sunridge Ski Area (February 9) and Snow Valley Ski Club (March 3) host this series to encourage riders to try different parks, each with unique features. See participating hills for full details.

FIS World Snow Day – Jan. 19, 2020 / 10am – 2pm

International Ski Federation’s ‘Bring Children to the Snow’ day. There will be giveaways, hot chocolate, an obstacle course, scavenger hunt, and plenty more!

Winterruption YEG – Jan. 23 – 26, 2020

The first annual Winterruption YEG festival! This is going to be a great multi-venue festival filled with indoor and outdoor music and arts!

YEG Hot Chocolate Fest – Jan. 31 – Feb. 16, 2020

Is there anything better than an incredible cup of hot chocolate in the middle of our coldest months? Enjoy hot chocolate treats at various cafes throughout the city with funds raised going to Easter Seals of Northern Alberta.

Front Yards in Bloom: Winterscapes! – Feb. 1 – 17, 2020

What better way to spend time outside with the family and kiddos than getting creative with our most abundant resource in winter; SNOW! Embrace your winter creativity with #FYIBwinterscapes! Brighten your neighbourhood by making a wintry wonderland with lights, plants, snow, and ice!

There is so much to do in our wonderful city in the winter! From happening at our local rec centres, to Community League functions, and outdoor skating all around Edmonton, there is truly something for everyone this winter. Now get out and enjoy this epic season!

My thoughts on Residential Speed Limits

There has been all kinds of discussion surrounding what to do with residential speed limits, its coming back to Council on May 14th.  Making our City safe is a priority, but I recognize and have heard from many that whatever we do it needs to be simple, consistent, cost effective and that we need to …

Vision Zero

A few years ago we realized as a City that we needed to take action to ensure that no matter which way that individuals and families use the road, or interact with it, they know that they will be safe. We unanimously decided as a Council to implement Vision Zero. The Vision Zero program involves many areas working together to achieve the goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2032.

In 2018, the City installed pedestrian scrambles at busy intersections on Jasper Avenue, on Whyte Avenue, and around Ice District. We added 65 feedback signs informing drivers to stay within the speed limit, which now totals 215 across Edmonton. We invested in rapid flashing beacons, zebra crosswalks, reflective pole wraps, and no-left-turn signs for 27 schools areas. We improved signals at 19 pedestrians crossings and made existing traffic signals easier to see at 12 other intersections.

And it’s working.

By The Numbers

Collision data over a three-year period, from 2015 before Vision Zero was launched to 2018, showed a 41% decline in traffic fatalities and a 17% decline in serious injuries, even though the number of vehicles on the road has increased. As well, we saw collisions involving vulnerable road users including pedestrians decline by 21%, cyclists by 27%, and motorcycles by 31%.

But Vision Zero is more than just flashing amber lights and speed limit signs. It is an attitude and a value system that guides the way we live in Edmonton. It is the belief that life and health should never be exchanged for convenience, that we need to put safety first. It is the belief that everyone deserves to leave and come home safely every day. It is belief every single Edmontonian can adapt and contribute. When you slow down at a playground zone, stop at the pedestrian crossing, encourage your peers to drive to conditions, ensure the road is safe before crossing, you contribute to Vision Zero.

Let’s continue succeeding together.

Good neighbours

As the snow continues to fall, the days get shorter and the Christmas trees go up, it’s a reminder to me that winter is here, and it’s here to stay. For me the change of season brings with it a sense of excited anticipation; of spending time with family, having my grandchildren help me decorate and buying gifts for loved ones. It’s also the time of year that reminds me of all the changes that winter brings.

Edmonton is a winter City, the results of which affect many parts of our lives, one of the biggest being winter driving. As a Vision Zero City we have a goal of reducing traffic fatalities to zero, it’s important to remember that no matter how good of a job our road crews do clearing our streets, areas still remain slippery. Giving yourself a few extra minutes to drive to wherever your day leads can eliminate many traffic problems, and help protect our vulnerable road users such as children and the elderly.

Winter also brings with it the Holiday season. It’s a time of giving gifts and celebrating the warmth of family and friends. However not all Edmontonians have the same experience over Christmas, there are many individuals and families who can’t make ends meet and will not be able to afford gifts or a Christmas meal. The food bank is a wonderful organisation in our City that aims to provide anyone in need with essentials. This year their goal is to raise 350,000 kilograms of food and $1.8 million between now and January 11, 2019.

We have a lot to be thankful for and as we get into the season of giving lets do all that we can to lend our neighbours a helping hand. Many longtime Edmontonians in our neighbourhoods may need help shoveling and clearing ice, but very few will ask for help. The best way to help is by asking if they need a hand. There are also some resources for those looking for help at edmonton.ca/snowangels

This time of the year may be cold outside, but the way that so many Edmontonians give makes our City such a warm place to be in the winter.

Crosswalk Safety

Today the City Auditor presented the results of the crosswalk audit to City Council, and I am pleased to see that the report recognizes the crosswalk program is effectively managed.

The Traffic Safety Office, under Parks and Roads, is responsible for the implementation and maintenance of an effective pedestrian crosswalk program. The objective for this audit was to ensure that the pedestrian crosswalk program is managed effectively, and the City Auditor concluded that the pedestrian crosswalk program is being effectively managed and improving pedestrian safety.

While the City Auditor confirmed the program is well-managed and improving pedestrian safety, it offered four recommendations to improve the program’s overall effectiveness.

The City has already made steps to implement the auditors’ suggestions and recommendations including:

  • As of May 26, the City started increasing the width of all parallel (standard) pedestrian crosswalk lines to 20 cm in width from the previous standard of 10 cm.  The wider line will be used at:
    • new crosswalk installations
    • regular scheduled maintenance of existing crosswalks
    • and replacement of existing crosswalks after repaving and rehabilitation
  • 20 cm white lines have already been painted along decorative brick crosswalks at three intersections on 118 Ave ( 81 St., 88 St., and 95A St.) and more are in the works.

In addition, based on data, the City created a pedestrian-crossing signals priority list for 2017 and 2018 based on evaluating hundreds of pedestrian crossings.

These crosswalk upgrades are about making crossings safer for pedestrians. However, it is also important to note that crosswalks do not protect pedestrians from careless drivers, so it is important for drivers to watch for pedestrians and pedestrians to watch for careless drivers.

More information on pedestrian crossings can be found here.

Ultimately, it is going to take all of us. Engineering improvements, pedestrian awareness, and driver behavior… each element is important. Our goal is Vision Zero, but it is going to everybody.

Vision Zero 2016: Creating Safer School Neighbourhoods

When our City Council approved Vision Zero, with the long-term goal of having zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries, we knew it would require a multidimensional approach from the City and Edmontonians and I am happy to report we are making progress, particularly when it comes to school safety.

2016 results

Keeping students and their families safe as they travel to and from school is so important and in 2016 the City undertook a number of improvements at Edmonton schools:

  • Traffic safety assessments were conducted at 13 elementary schools to observe road user behavior and new countermeasures were installed in September 2016. Countermeasures included new zebra crosswalks, new stop signs with retro-reflective poles, reflective strips on pedestrian signs, and upgrading from yield signs to stop signs.
  • Starting in 2016, a pickup/drop-off zone will be implemented at one school every year. In 2016, St. Justin School received a pickup/drop-off zone.
  • Prohibiting left turns from school parking lots was implemented at two schools.
  • In October, City Council approved the expansion of 30 km/hr school zones to include Edmonton’s 43 junior high schools. This new speed limit will be in place for all junior high schools by September 2017, when students return to class.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of school zones

In 2014, 30 km/hr school zones were implemented for Edmonton’s elementary schools. Our evaluation of these 30 km/hr school zones showed significant safety improvements, including:

  • 43 percent reduction in injury collisions
  • 71 percent reduction in injury collisions involving vulnerable road users
  • 12 km/hr reduction in vehicle speeds

Many great improvements have been made and we will continue this work throughout 2017 to make Edmonton’s streets safe for all road users, especially close to schools. For more information on Vision Zero, visit edmonton.ca/visionzero and follow @VisionZeroYEG on Twitter.

Council Connect

On September 22, 2015 City Council approved the Road Safety Strategy 2016-2020 making Edmonton the first Canadian city to officially adopt Vision Zero, the long-term goal of zero fatalities and zero major injuries on our roads.

Vision Zero is a global initiative and a bold goal that has been implemented in Sweden and in some American cities including Boston, Seattle and New York.

Developed by the Office of Traffic Safety, the Edmonton Road Safety Strategy 2016-2020 moves us toward Vision Zero. Through a Safe-Systems, evidence-based approach, we will save lives and eliminate injuries through the 5 E’s of traffic safety:

  • Engineering
  • Education
  • Enforcement
  • Evaluation
  • Engagement

One area of focus moving forward is School Safety. It is important to all of us that we protect our most vulnerable citizens, and that we create safe areas around our schools. The Office of Traffic Safety has identified 13 schools of focus. As apart of this emphasis on safety, a new state-of-the-art video analytics tool will be used.

Currently, this tool is being used for Data Collection which through analysis, will help inform the City of Edmonton on the issues around these 13 schools, and will be used to help create a plan and a strategy to create safe spaces and places around our schools.

This comprehensive strategy also includes the Edmonton & Area Traffic Safety Culture, the development of a Traffic Safety App, dedicated school zone enforcement units, driver feedback signs, and the installation of additional Pedestrian Crossing Controls.

Traffic Safety is not the responsibility of any one person or agency, rather it is something that impacts each and everyone of us. Traffic Safety is our responsibility, and together we can make a difference and save lives.

As always, you can contact me by email,  or by calling my office at City Hall, 780-496-8136.