Feeling safe in your neighbourhood is key to building a sense of community. Whether it be children walking to school, someone out for their afternoon stroll with their dog, or neighbours playing road hockey, we need neighbourhoods where vehicles are driving at a safe speed for pedestrians.
The difference between an accident between and car and pedestrian at 60km/h and 30 km/h is significant. According to a WHO report on road safety, the recommended speed for areas where pedestrian and vehicle traffic mix is 30 km/h. The survival rate of pedestrians struck by cars is more than double when the speed is 30 km/h rather than 60 km/h. Too many of our neighbourhoods have speed limits of 50km/h with roads that allow drivers to go 60 km/h. Cities that have adopted 30 km/hr include Munich, New York City, and Zurich. In Canada, the cities of Calgary and Saskatoon are currently looking at making the change. In Saskatoon, the study done by the city found that lowering the speed limit would only add a minute to the average commute. A study earlier this year in Edmonton similarly found that lowering speed limits in residential areas would impact commutes by only a couple of minutes. I believe we need to review not just the design of our residential streets, but also the default speed limit in these areas.
Our neighbourhoods and the city also need to be connected with the appropriate infrastructure. Often sidewalks are missing on one side of the road and end abruptly. On some stretches of new neighbourhoods, they don’t yet exist. We also need to build a comprehensive network of bike lanes and trails that allow for cycling to be a safe option. Not only are active modes of transportation healthy, but they also help us get cars off the road and allow more neighbourly interaction. We must also take care of the bike lanes and sidewalks in the winter. I will push for the city to take on snow removal from sidewalks. This is both imperative for safety and accessibility.
We must also work with the Region to ensure that transit routes get you within a safe distance of your home and are set up in new areas from the beginning. The new developments in my ward have had a slow introduction of transit to the area, meaning that people who move here are car dependent. This also means that everything has to be designed for two car households.
When we plan our cities we need to plan for pedestrians, cyclists, public transit, and cars equally. Crosswalks and bike lanes should be incorporated in plans from the beginning, speed limits and transit routes should be re-evaluated against best practices from all over the world, not just those in the area. Protecting the safety of children walking to school should be a priority from the beginning — we should not have to resort to reactionary stop-gap solutions.