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The Case For A 19 MPH Speed Limit


Cars in Paris will soon be going très slow. The city’s new mayor, Anne Hidalgo, recently introduced a plan to lower the default speed limit throughout the city from 50 kph (31 mph) to 30 kph (a little slower than 19 mph). Though billed as an anti-pollution plan, it will make streets safer for pedestrians, Le Parisien reports.


Since the first “Tempo-30” zone was introduced in Buxtehude, Germany, in 1983, the traffic-calming measure has been adopted by other European cities, including Stockholm, Munich, Dublin, and Barcelona. The policy has largely been implemented by smaller cities and only in residential areas, though, making the Parisian plan, which will affect the city’s 2.2 million* residents, notable for its scale. Studies have shown that reducing speeds to 30 kph or less both reduces the total number of accidents and how fatal accidents are for pedestrians. London‘s 20 mph zones, mostly in residential areas, have reduced the frequency of fatal and serious injury accidents by 53%. The creation of 78 slow zones in the city lowered the annual injury accident rate from 1,660 total accidents to 590, and 282 fatal accidents to 77. And according to experts, the slower speed limit doesn’t necessarily cause more traffic jams.

In Paris, the 30 kph limit will apply to most streets, excluding some major thoroughfares like the Champs-Elysées. The initiative, which does not have a roll-out date yet, represents larger efforts by Parisian administrators to slow traffic to protect pedestrians and reduce CO2 emissions (though the effects of slowing down to 30 kph on emissionsaren’t entirely clear). Earlier this year, the city reduced the speed limit on its busy ring road, Boulevard Périphérique, by 10 kph, down to 70 kph or 43 mph. (Critics noted that the change made no difference, since congestion kept traffic at a crawl anyway. Under the new plan, its speed limit will remain 70 kph.) A little more than a third of the city’s streets already had 30 kph speed limits, as per a September 2013 initiative, and certain sections of the city where cyclists, pedestrians, and cars are likely to mingle, called “meeting zones,” are limited even further, to speeds of 20 kph or less.

You might assume that lower speed limits slow drivers’ travel time, but that’s not usually the case. On urban streets, “a lower speed limit may actually reduce overall travel time by allowing a more harmonic traffic rhythm,” according to a study from the Accident Research Center at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Congestion in cities is “all about competing demand at intersections,” as Tom Vanderbilt, author of the book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, explained to me in an email. “Drivers speeding toward a red light, stopping, and restarting can actually cause more congestion than if everyone just drove more slowly and timed their approach to their light.”

And ensuring that urban drivers keep speeds down under light traffic conditions could save a significant number of lives. Research has shown that the risk of pedestrian fatality rises sharply at speeds higher than 30 kph. A U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report found that only 5% of pedestrians hit by a car going 20 mph or less died, compared to 40% struck by a vehicle going 30 mph and almost 100% of pedestrians struck by vehicles going 50 mph or faster.

Paris is not the first city to test out 30 kph zones as a pedestrian-protecting measure, though it may be one of the largest cities so far to make 30 kph the default speed limit. In 1992, Graz, Austria (population: 265,778), made 30 kph the default speed limit citywide.


These 30 kph zones are also a vital component of Sweden’s Vision Zero policy, which aims to reduce pedestrian traffic fatalities to zero. There, as well as in cities in the Netherlands, Ireland, and the U.K., speeds have been reduced to 30 kph in most residential zones and some city centers. The Greens/European Free Alliance, a political group within European Parliament, wants to make it an even broader policy: it recently proposed making 30 kph the default speed limit throughout the European Union.

The U.S. is still playing catch up. New York City has been experimenting with 20 mph zones since 2010, but recent plans to reduce the default speed limit to 25 mph (as part of New York’s Vision Zero) have beenstalled by state lawmakers.

[H/T: Raise The HammerWorld Streets]

*The original version of this post listed the population of Paris as 2.2 billion, rather than 2.2 million. Thanks to commenter Kenny Landes for pointing out the error.

[Image: Paris via vvoe / Shutterstock]

Rise in pedestrian deaths sparks call for improved crosswalk safety

Average of three people hit by vehicles every two days

Calgary has a five-year plan aiming to completely eliminate all transportation fatalities and injuries in Calgary. There have already been three pedestrian deaths this year, after nine in 2013.

The deaths of two pedestrians in less than a week — and a steady growth in the number of pedestrian collisions — has reignited calls for improved crosswalk safety in Calgary.

Statistics reveal that an average of three pedestrians are hit by a vehicle in Calgary every two days, and data released by city police show a steady increase in the total number of pedestrian collisions. There were 548 pedestrian collisions in 2013, compared to 537 in 2012 and 511 in 2011.

City data indicates most vehicle collisions involving pedestrians occur from July to December, but with three pedestrian fatalities already in 2014, Calgarians are concerned.

Habib Qureshi said in the past month and a half he’s had three close calls while walking in the same Beltline crosswalk where a woman was struck and killed last week.

“I don’t feel safe walking in Calgary. The drivers are not paying attention,” said Qureshi.

“It’s people rushing through, they don’t see the pedestrians.”

To date in 2014, there have been three pedestrian fatalities and two serious injury pedestrian collisions on city streets.

Vladimir Kaitman, 92, died after he was struck and dragged by a truck reversing out of a driveway while walking near his home in Bowness on Jan. 18.

On Wednesday, police said Jacoba Jean Davidson, 26, of Calgary has been charged with unsafe backing in connection with the fatal collision.

The city’s second pedestrian fatality of 2014 occurred Feb. 13, when Shelly Pauletto was struck and killed while crossing the street at the intersection of 10th Avenue and 5th Street S.W.

Days later, on Feb. 17, 26-year-old Moises Morales was killed when a Honda Accord struck and dragged him in the 4000 block of Centre Street N.

Dilan Ursan, 25, who has previously been convicted of drinking and driving, was charged with hit-and-run causing death in connection to Morales’ death.

In 2011 there were six pedestrian fatalities in Calgary and 11 in 2012. There were nine pedestrian fatalities in 2013, including the death of a woman who was struck by two vehicles. That incident sparked an urgent notice of motion from then alderman Gael MacLeod for a city study to help prevent pedestrian-auto collisions.

The motion resulted in the Calgary Safer Mobility Plan, a five-year plan that has a mission to completely eliminate all transportation fatalities and injuries in Calgary.

Former alderman MacLeod said she’s pleased something has resulted from her March 2013 motion, but said the recent fatalities emphasize that pedestrian safety is still an issue.

“As we become a bigger city and as we try to encourage different modes of transportation, pedestrian safety is going to increase as a priority. It’s part of growing up as a city,” she said.

Alex de Barros, an associate professor at the Schulich School of Engineering, whose expertise is in transportation safety, said that while all municipalities should be striving for zero fatalities, in principle it’s just not achievable.

“As long as you have human pedestrians and human drivers, someone is bound to make a mistake, and every once in awhile there will be a fatality,” de Barros said.

“Humans make mistakes. It is our duty as designers and engineers to design the facilities to be forgiving. It’s our duty to take into account the fact that humans make mistakes.”

Devastated family wonders how driver could flee scene as man dies in road

Devastated family wonders how driver could flee scene as man dies in road


The family of a 26-year-old pedestrian who was killed early Monday morning while walking to Tim Hortons is questioning why the driver of the vehicle that hit their son didn’t stay at the scene of the collision.

Moises Morales was rushed to Foothills Hospital in critical condition after a Honda Accord struck and dragged him in the 4000 block of Centre Street N. around 4 a.m. Monday.

Morales succumbed to his injuries in hospital. His death is the second pedestrian fatality in Calgary in five days.

His family believes he had either finished work or was on his way to work and was walking to a nearby Tim Hortons when he was struck.

Moises Morales. (Photo: Family)

“It’s just unbelievable that our son’s life was taken away at such a young age and this guy had the guts to run away … Maybe he could have saved our son’s life by giving first aid or calling the ambulance. We don’t know how long our son was (on the road) before somebody else called the ambulance,” said Morales’ stepfather Harold Chavarria.

The male driver of the vehicle that hit Morales fled the scene but returned approximately four-and-a-half hours later, without the car, to turn himself into police. Charges are pending and on Monday police sought a search warrant to seize the man’s damaged vehicle.

EMS spokesman Stuart Brideaux said when crews arrived on scene around 4 a.m. Monday, other motorists were attempting to assist Morales.

Sgt. Colin Foster of the Calgary Police Traffic Section said it is believed Morales was crossing from east to west in an unmarked crosswalk when he was struck by a car travelling northbound on Centre Street.

Instead of spending family day preparing a large meal for her family as planned, Morales’ mom returned to the scene where her son was hit, along with her husband and five of Morales’ six siblings on Monday morning.

Family describe Morales as a workaholic who juggled two jobs and loved to visit the mountains whenever he had a chance.

Morales moved to Canada from Nicaragua when he was four-year-old and he adored the Spanish food of his home country.

He had planned to spend Monday evening enjoying a tasty Spanish meal with his parents and siblings.

Morales’ death comes just days after Shelly Pauletto, a mother of two, was killed while crossing the street outside her Beltline office on a marked crosswalk at the intersection of 10th Avenue and 5th Street S.W. on Thursday.

In the wake of the fatalities, Foster urged local pedestrians and drivers to exercise caution.

Pedestrians should make eye-contact with drivers and ensure vehicles are slowing down for them before crossing and drivers need to be aware that pedestrians are on the road, Foster said.

“Be cognizant of who is on the road, both for pedestrians and drivers,” he said.

Calgary ‘starting work’ on a ‘pedestrian strategy

By Robson Fletcher
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Robson Fletcher / Metro

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The “rectangular rapid flashing beacons” at this crosswalk on Radcliffe Drive S.E. were part of a pilot project the city undertook, beginning in 2011, that is now set to be expanded.
Calgary is in the process of developing a “pedestrian strategy,” the city’s transportation manager revealed Monday, something that came as news to the mayor and members of council.

“The transportation department has identified a pedestrian strategy as one of our 2014 major projects,” Mac Logan told council. “That work is already starting.”

His comments came during discussion over snow-clearing on so-called “engineered walkways” – pedestrian paths that aren’t sidewalks and aren’t pathways, but something sort of in between – and in response to a point raised by Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart.

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The Ward 13 representative noted that the city has formalized documents outlining its approach toward roads and transit, but walking is overlooked.

“We really don’t have a pedestrian mobility strategy,” Colley-Urquhart said.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi echoed that.

“This is an important transportation mode and we often forget about it,” he said.

Calgary engineer reveals most dangerous intersections for pedestrians

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After being hit twice by vehicles as he was walking, a Calgary engineer turned 16 years of police data he obtained through freedom of information into a map showing the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians.

Photograph by: Stuart Gradon Stuart Gradon , Calgary Herald

After being hit twice by vehicles as he was walking, a Calgary engineer turned 16 years of police data he obtained through freedom of information into a map showing the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians.

Using a Google Fusion Table, Dustin Jones plotted the total pedestrian collisions from 1996 to 2012 at every single intersection in Calgary in anonline map because he wants to educate pedestrians.

“I’m just hoping that it helps to educate people about where they are potentially at risk when walking,” said Jones, who obtained the data from the Calgary Police Service through Freedom of Information request.

“I have a number of friends who have been hit or seriously injured in accidents. Each of these points on the map is somebody’s story about being in an accident.”

Some of his findings show, for example, that 45 pedestrians were hit by vehicles over the span of 16 years at intersection of 17th Avenue S.W. and 4th Street S.W., a trendy spot near shops and restaurants, the point where 17th Avenue meets Mission.

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Eight of those pedestrians were seriously injured.

On Forest Lawn’s International Avenue, from 26th to 61st Street S.E., more than 150 pedestrian collisions, including 34 at the intersection of 17th Avenue S.E. and 36th Street S.E., took place between 1996 and 2012.

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Near the 39th Avenue LRT Station, at 39th Avenue S.W. and Macleod Trail S, 20 pedestrians have been hit since 1996, including one who died, and three who suffered major injuries.

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Two pedestrian deaths in marked crosswalks in a less than a week earlier this month has prompted calls for improved crosswalk safety in Calgary.

Statistics released by police reveal that an average of three pedestrians are hit by a vehicle in Calgary every two days.

In January, a Calgary senior, who was wearing a safety vest so he would be visible to motorists, was killed while walking near his Bowness home.

Jones’ map uses coloured markers to signify the number of collisions that have occurred on city streets, and clicking on each marker shows how many collisions resulted in death or major, minor, unknown or non-existent injuries.

The map shows no area of the city is exempt from pedestrian collisions.

Jones said he was surprised at just how many Calgarians are hit while walking.

“For every pedestrian fatality that you hear about in the media, there are a large number of major injuries that happen and an even larger number of minor injuries that happen,” Jones said. “We only see the tip of the iceberg in terms of the overall injury picture of what’s happening. The data really shows there’s a much broader amount of injuries happening.”

Coun. Druh Farrell referred to Jones’ collision map last week as she argued in favour of the proposed 1st Street S.E. bike lanes. The plan would protect pedestrians by keeping bicycles off sidewalks, she said.

On Sunday, Farrell said when she first saw Jones’ map, she was “saddened and not surprised.”

“My lack of surprise was what was so sad. (Pedestrian collisions) seem to be considered just a hazard of city life and that response will not help us improve the situation,” she said.

Historically, pedestrian safety hasn’t been a priority in Calgary, said Farrell, referencing the fact that new communities have only recently been required to build sidewalks on both sides of the street as one of many examples.

“It’s something that is an after-thought to many people, including our own transportation department. They’re getting better at it, but it’s slow progress,” she said.

Jones is hopeful Calgarians will use the map he created to advocate for change at the extra troublesome or dangerous intersections in their neighbourhoods.

“It is pretty sad that there are so many injuries happening,” he said.

The intersections with the highest number of total pedestrian collisions (1996-2012) in Calgary are:

* 17th Avenue S.W. and 4th Street S.W.: 45 total pedestrian collisions

* 6455 Macleod Trail S: 41 total pedestrian collisions

* 3625 Shaganappi Trail N.W.: 39 total pedestrian collisions

* 17th Avenue S.E. and 36th Street S.E.: 34 total pedestrian collisions

* 14th Street S.W. and 17th Avenue S.W.: 34 total pedestrian collisions

Here’s the map showing Dustin Jones’ efforts:

Slow the Frack Down

Safer streets and slower speeds has never been attack on an individual or on someone’s rights, but a movement to adjust to a community that was never designed for deadly missiles as a part of the infrastructure. It is a motion to protect people we love, in an environment that is no longer friendly to the people who are not in cars.

Consider this for a moment.  I am to encourage my 6 year old to partake in physical activity; boarding, skating, walking, cycling… but I do so knowing that he has a 50% or less chance of survival, never mind permanent injury if he should somehow “interact” with one of the 8,000 + cars that whiz by him during the day. Reality is, if he is struck by a vehicle, he will likely die and most certainly be terribly injured. He is playing on streets zoned for less than 1,000 vehicles, but are in fact 8,000 or more per day. With speeds in excess of 50km/hr? The odds are not good, and no upside in it for me as a parent to take the chance.

Do you think I am going to allow him, as a 6 year old, to be physically active in my community?

No. Not a hope. I am not prepared to play the odds, thank you very much.

And maybe you don’t care. Maybe you care only about yourself and achieving what it is, what ever it is, you wish to do. Well here’s the thing. If you are trying to get somewhere faster, you are SOL. Your road rage, on road bullying will land approximately 1.8 seconds ahead of me when you stop at the next light. And I will look at you, me in my sports sedan, cruising at 40k and I will glare at you, because you, you are an arshole.

I have been politically correct, patient and kind, but another boy was stuck on our streets in the most unacceptable of circumstances, and I am done with being being polite, patient and kind.

Its physics, GodDamnIt and 50km/hr is not safe for pedestrians on streets where people walk and children play. Period.


Pedestrian killed in southwest Calgary crash

Pedestrian killed in southwest Calgary crash

42nd Avenue S.W. east of Macleod Trail to train tracks remain closed until investigation completed

CBC News Posted: Aug 12, 2013 3:24 PM MT Last Updated: Aug 12, 2013 3:33 PM MT

Calgary police are investigating a fatal pedestrian collision in southwest Calgary.

Calgary police are investigating a fatal pedestrian collision in southwest Calgary. (Stacee Barton/CBC)

Calgary police say a pedestrian was killed this afternoon in the 4200 block of Macleod Trail southwest.

42nd Ave. and Macleod Trail southwest CalgaryA woman was pinned under a vehicle around 1:50 p.m. MT and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.

The driver of the vehicle has been taken into custody.

Drivers are being asked to find alternative routes for the rush-hour commute.

Macleod Trail will remain open, but police say 42nd Avenue S.W. east of Macleod Trail to the train tracks will remain closed until the investigation has been completed.

Calgary groups call for 30 km/h speed limit on residential roads

Glenn Kelly / For MetroA vehicle passes a 40 km/h sign.

Advocates in two Calgary communities are calling for speed limits on residential streets to be reduced to 30 km/h, saying the change would drastically reduce the risk of death in motor-vehicle collisions.

Jodi Morel undertook the campaign in Mount Royal after witnessing the scene of a fatal motorcycle crash earlier this year.

“It was quite horrific,” she said, adding that, based on the distance the rider was thrown and the injuries he sustained, she initially figured he must have been excessively speeding.

But police told her otherwise.

“They had, in fact, measured it and it was within what they would expect from 50 km/h,” Morel said.

Dale Calkins, meanwhile, founded a group called 30 For Sunnyside and is calling for a similar speed-limit reduction in his neighbourhood, based on similar research in that Morel cites.

“30 km/h is significantly safer than 50 km/h and much, much safer than any speed over 50 km/h,” he said, referring to several studies he presents online.

Calkins said he wants to simply start a conversation on the idea in Calgary, although he recognizes there will likely be resistance.

“I think a lot of people will look at this and say ‘This is too inconvenient,’” he said. “But it’s only in residential areas and really your trip times will only be impacted by a few seconds.”

‘He was like an angel’ — Family mourns Calgary boy killed in dirt-bike collision

Contributed by the Nahal familyFamily and friends are mourning the death of 12-year-old Neil Nahal. The Calgary boy was killed when his dirt bike collided with an SUV over the weekend.

He may have only been 12 years old, but Neil Nahal loved to explore and had big aspirations.

“He always said he wanted to be mayor when he grew up,” recalled younger sister Sanna Nahal with a smile. “He had this golden aura — he walked into a room and lit it up. Everyone just gravitated towards him, he had a pure heart.”

“He was like an angel,” added fellow sibling Shawna Nahal, who watched with admiration as her younger brother toured with family through London and Paris a few weeks ago, taking great interest in the European art and architecture he spotted along the way.

But now friends will be left to wonder what could have been, as Neil was struck and killed by a car while aboard his dirt bike Friday just a block from his southwest Calgary home.

On Monday, family and friends alike deemed the corner where Neil was killed in the 1900-block of 10A St. S.W. dangerous, adding it was likely neither he nor the 16-year-old driver of the vehicle that hit him saw each other until it was too late.

Friends and family said Neil’s father Satpal Nahal always made a point of keeping a close watch over his son.

“We were, very, very close,” Satpal said. “He is my only son and my best friend.”

Sister Joti Nahal added, “We have the best dad in the world and we will always remember Neil as our angel.”

Neil’s three sisters and first cousin Sundle Sandhu spent an hour sharing numerous fond memories of him Monday afternoon. Sandhu, specifically, said the youngster always put a smile on her face.

Police have said they don’t expect charges to be laid in relation to the collision.

Neil would have turned 13 in two weeks and begun Grade 8 at nearby Mount Royal Junior High School in September.

Classmates, including Jaslynn Kanwal, set up a makeshift memorial on the fence bordering the school’s playground over the weekend.

“Everyone’s trying to hold up right now,” Kanwal said. “He was just a free-spirited person — he was the most energetic person I know.”

Memorial information

  • Plans are being finalized to hold a memorial in honour of Neil Nahal at Queen’s Park Cemetery, located at 3219, 4th St. NW. Wednesday afternoon.