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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.