March 09, 2023, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
On Monday night, City of Waterloo council approved a plan which will see speed limits lowered in school zones drop to 30 km/h while limits on local roads and minor collector roads will be 40 km/h in Wards 1 through 6.
Major collector roads, such as Davenport Road, will fall to 50 km/h when the plan is implemented in the spring.
This decision has been met with both praise and criticism, but there are a number of benefits that come with lowering the speed limit that are worth considering.
Why Lower Speeds are Safer
One of the primary benefits of a lower speed limit is increased safety for all road users. Lowering the speed limit has been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of severe injury or death in the event of an accident. This is particularly true for pedestrians and cyclists, who are more vulnerable to injury or death in the event of a collision with a motor vehicle. By reducing the speed limit to 30 km/h, the City of Waterloo is taking an important step towards making its streets safer for all users.
Another benefit of the lower speed limit is that it promotes more sustainable modes of transportation. Lower speeds make it easier and safer for people to walk, bike, and use public transit. This, in turn, can reduce the number of cars on the road and help to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, which is an important consideration as we work to mitigate the effects of climate change. Additionally, by promoting more sustainable modes of transportation, the lower speed limit can help to improve air quality and reduce noise pollution, which can have positive impacts on the health and well-being of residents.
Furthermore, a lower speed limit can also improve the livability of a city. Lower speeds make streets more pleasant and comfortable for everyone, reducing noise pollution and creating a more peaceful and enjoyable environment. This is particularly important in residential areas, where people spend a significant amount of time and value the quality of life in their neighborhoods.
What Prompted the Move to Lower Speed Limits
The decision to lower the speed limit to 30 km/h is also in line with global trends towards more equitable and inclusive urban transportation systems. Lower speeds make streets safer and more accessible for people of all ages and abilities, including children, seniors, and people with disabilities. This is an important step towards creating a more inclusive and accessible city for everyone.
The decision to lower the speed limit is also supported by research and data. Studies have consistently shown that lower speed limits are associated with reduced traffic fatalities and injuries. For example, a study by the World Health Organization found that reducing speed limits from 50 km/h to 30 km/h can reduce the risk of a pedestrian being killed in a collision with a car by over 50%. Similarly, a study by Transport for London found that reducing speed limits from 30 mph (48 km/h) to 20 mph (32 km/h) can reduce the risk of accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians by up to 40%.
What Are the Criticisms of Lower Speeds?
While some may argue that a lower speed limit will inconvenience drivers and slow down traffic, it is important to remember that the benefits of the decision far outweigh any potential inconveniences. Moreover, the City of Waterloo has taken steps to ensure that drivers are aware of the new speed limit and understand its importance. For example, the city has installed new signage, launched an educational campaign, and increased enforcement to ensure that drivers are adhering to the new limit.
The decision by the City of Waterloo to lower the speed limit to 30 km/h on residential streets is a positive and progressive move that will bring a wide range of benefits to the city and its residents. By improving safety, promoting sustainability and equity, and creating a more livable and enjoyable city, the lower speed limit is an important step towards creating a better future for all. While there may be some challenges and obstacles to overcome, the benefits of the decision are clear and demonstrate the city's commitment to creating a safer, more sustainable, and more inclusive urban environment.