Slowing traffic on Winnipeg’s residential streets could save lives | Metro

We’ve all had the experience. You’re out strolling the neighbourhood or maybe sitting on your front step on warm summer evening, then suddenly you hear a rumbling sound. Before you can turn around, some dipstick in a truck or on a motorcycle goes blazing down your previously quiet residential street at 10 or 20 kilometres over the speed limit.

Source: Slowing traffic on Winnipeg’s residential streets could save lives | Metro

Why ‘Jake’s law’ on speed limits is the fastest way to cut road death numbers

Liz O’Donnell – Irish Independent – original news article click here

PUBLISHED21/02/2015 | 02:30

Roseann and Chris Brennan, parents of victim Jake Brennan, at the end of the protest  to Jake's Legacy which took place outside Leinster House, Dublin.<br />
Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Roseann and Chris Brennan, parents of victim Jake Brennan, at the end of the protest to Jake’s Legacy which took place outside Leinster House, Dublin. Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

The unopposed passage in the Dáil this week of a law Bill (Jake’s law) to introduce a 20kph speed limit in residential areas is a measure of the support across all political parties for strengthening rules to promote road safety.

The private members bill, sponsored by Sinn Féin Deputy Dessie Ellis, was prompted by the grieving parents of a young boy, Jake Brennan, who died after being hit by a car outside his home in a Kilkenny housing estate. Since this life-altering tragedy, the family have been campaigning to have 20kph speed limits introduced in residential estates.

Such mandatory limits are not straight forward and the minister, in welcoming and supporting the principle of the bill, indicated he had instructed local authorities to examine and report on the implementation of the measure and for the Attorney General to liaise with the deputy sponsoring the bill on how best to progress the new law. The law as it stands sets a default speed limit of 50kph in built-up areas, but allows local authorities to set a limit of 30kph where they believe it is appropriate.The minister has been active in recent months in pressing for action by the local authorities and has ordered a review of speed limits and gave €2m funding to assist in this exercise. Complications arise, however, in what constitutes a “residential” road. Some residential roads are in fact substantial routes for traffic. So mandatory centrally-imposed speed limits would be inappropriate.

Despite criticism, the minister was right to hasten slowly on this. One can imagine traffic chaos if overnight a national mandatory speed limit of 20kph was introduced.

Local authorities are the best vehicle for changing the local speed limits, based on knowledge of the area and traffic flows, and not to mention business activity. The minister is to progress the principle of Jake’s law as this initiative and bill has been titled in the forthcoming Road Traffic Bill, which will shortly come before committee.

Excessive speed was cited as a contributory factor in 15pc of all fatalities in Ireland in the period between 2002-2012; the economic cost to society of speeding- related collisions was estimated at €140m per year for the period. Of all motorcyclists killed, 25pc were in speed-related collisions. Of all private car drivers killed on the roads, 16pc were killed in speed-related collisions. Of these, 16pc were learner drivers. Of the 411 fatal collisions where excessive speed was a factor, 232 (56pc) were single vehicle crashes.

Dublin, Cork and Donegal are the counties where the greatest number of excessive speed-related collisions occurred.

Over the years, major improvements in road safety have been achieved as measured by fatalities and serious injury. The decade from 2002 to 2012, the same period as for those figures above, saw road deaths drop from 376 to 162, a reduction of 60pc. Such a dramatic improvement did not happen by chance. It involved improving road quality and setting higher standards for vehicle safety through NCT and commercial vehicle testing. Tougher laws on drink driving and mandatory alcohol testing were introduced. Penalty points, introduced in 2002, have proven to be both a deterrent and an educational tool.

But the last two years have seen a regrettable rise in road fatalities. There were 197 in 2014. Although driver deaths were down, vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists were up. Four out of 10 who died in 2014 was either a pedestrian, a cyclist or a motorcyclist. Sadly, 16 children aged up to 15 years lost their lives, double the previous year.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) will be particularly focusing on vulnerable road users in the 2015 strategy and awareness campaigns.

Elderly people and young children are those most at risk. Those aged over 60 accounted for 40pc of all pedestrian deaths. Eight children were knocked down and killed last year. That is why the proposal to reduce speed of vehicles in residential areas where children are playing is so important.

The Department of Transport completed a speed limits review in 2013 in consultation with the RSA, NRA and the AA as well as the Garda Síochána and local authorities. The review was detailed and made special recommendations on speed, including proposals for what are called Urban Shared Spaces or home zones. These home zones would be a formal designation under the Roads Act and would attract a maximum speed limit.

But that would still leave the issue of dealing with vehicle traffic and speed in existing residential areas not designed to that particular urban design model. The challenge now is to follow through on the principle of Jake’s Law. The move is in line with such limits fast gaining acceptance across EU cities, most recently Edinburgh and Milan.

Speeding, both excessive and inappropriate, remains one of the main causes of collisions and of deaths and serious injuries on our roads. Four out of five penalty point events are for speeding. We are all offenders.

If we as a society and as road users could just slow down by 15kph, we would reduce road collisions by 20pc. Small changes in our driving behaviour can make a huge difference and even save a life. If a car hits a child at 30kph, there is a 90pc chance the child will live. If hit at 50kph, the child’s survival likelihood is 50/50. If hit at 60kph, the chances are that the child will be killed.

How about that for a New Year resolution worth keeping.

Irish Independent

What I know – Speed and Injury

I was raised on a ranch in a small community where everyone knew everyone. I also was inducted into the reality of accidental death at a very early age. When I was ten years old, Gordon Collier, my friend, my crush, the most beautiful boy in the world, died while riding a dirt bike at a nearby gravel pit. What stands out in my mind is the affect on the family and on (we) the children. What I learned from that experience is there is no acceptable number, no acceptable loss. The impact of Gordon’s death on his friends, classmates, family and community was beyond measure. When we determine change and policy based on statistics, we are completely ignorant of the true impact of the issue. It simply can not be measured in numbers or dollars and cents.

I fast forward to July 27th, 2013.   I did not know that the speed limit was 50km an hour on all residential streets unless otherwise marked, nor did I give it much thought. I did not know that the law would permit speeds of 10 to 12k over the speed limit before issuing a ticket. I did not know what would happen to a person when hit at 50km an hour.

I did not know Neil, or at least I did not know his name, but I knew his face and I knew him as one of the many children who would play near the streets in my community. I was afraid for his safety as he and others would skateboard, bike and play where commuters were “commuting” with little regard for the activity around them.   Two weeks before the accident, I found him on the sidewalk rubbing a bruised ankle.  I stopped to ask if he was okay, and watched as he nodded and quickly dashed away on his skateboard.  That is the last time I saw him alive.

On a Saturday morning I received the email from my neighbour telling me there had been an accident.  A boy in front of his house had been struck by a vehicle. It was terrible and I should come.  I went, my four-year-old and dog in tow, and we walked the few blocks to the scene of the accident where my neighbour graphically detailed the accident and the the boys’ injuries.  Out of respect of the family, witnesses and friends of the boy, I will not speak of the details of the accident other than to say I am sorry, and it is unacceptable.  The vehicle hit the 12 year old and then continued to travel three-quarters of a block, up a very steep hill, until it reluctantly came to a stop.  It was unbelievable. The first words out of my mouth were, “Obviously the driver was speeding!”

I was quickly assured that in fact, what we were looking at was actually what would be expected at 50k- 60k.  I did not yet know that this was the same boy who I had helped only two weeks before.

On that day, I came to know the impact of what is seemingly slow speed, has on a human body. I also was made aware that all streets are 50k unless marked otherwise, a speed limit that would most certainly end in injury or death.

I was appalled and angry at a system that had failed, knowing that the legal speed is entirely too fast.  I got in my SUV and I went to the very street where the accident happened, and I tried…I really tried.  I “punched it”, heart pounding, trying to hit 50km through a blind intersection with a two-way stop that most ignored, up a steep hill, on a road less than four metres across, and I couldn’t do it. I failed… yet an inexperienced driver managed to accomplish what I could not, and a boy who had promise in the world, is no longer with us. And it is completely acceptable. I proceeded to drive other streets in the community and monitored my speed. Never did I comfortably exceed 30k.

I can’t blame the teenage boys who were in the SUV that struck and killed Neil as the law permitted the speed, however fast and dangerous. The 12 year old made a mistake, which children often do. The problem is in the policy, which is outdated, and unsafe.

I went home and I began to research on my computer “speed and pedestrian death”.  The information was overwhelming. I found studies and statistics supporting my observation and recommendations from the most credible resources, including the Chief Coroner of Ontario, stating that the currents speeds on residential streets were deadly.

Therefore I refer to a 12 year old boy named Neil, when I speak to lowering speed in communities because Neil defined an issue, which is the safe and acceptable speed on residential streets, and it’s not 50km/hr. It is an undebatable truth in physical law that the chance of death or serious injury does not increase in relation to speed. In fact, the chance of death increases exponentially with even a minor increase (10km/hr) in speed.

• 32 km per hour impact speeds: 5 percent death, 65 percent injured, and 30 percent uninjured
• 48 km per hour impact speeds: 45 percent death, 50 percent injured, and 5 percent uninjured
• 64 km per hour impact speeds: 85 percent death and 15 percent injured – no one uninjured.

Of course it goes beyond speed; it is understanding, education, compassion,  empathy, respect and an appreciation for a livable community, regardless of where you live.  However,  until we as a society reach a level of humanity that puts others before our selves,  we have no choice but to create law to govern behaviour.  That is the nature of law.  For this reason, I request that we reduce the speed in residential communities to save lives and improve livability and safety. There is no statistical number than can measure the loss of a life, or the impact it has on a community. I wish I could go back in time, but I can’t, and now I know… 50k is not okay on residential streets where children play and people live.

pedestrian fatality

Slow Down – Ontario moves to cut speed limits in residential streets

Link to article click here

Published by the Toronto Star – Friday, September 5, 2014

Slow down: Ontario moves to cut speed limits on residential streets

Government expects to introduce an amendment in the fall to drop the limit to 40 km/h from 50 to save lives, minister says

Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi says the Ontario government is ready to move on reducing speed limits on residential streets to 40 kilometres an hour.

JENNIFER PAGLIARO / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi says the Ontario government is ready to move on reducing speed limits on residential streets to 40 kilometres an hour.

The Ontario government is putting the brakes on speed limits along residential streets across the province.

Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi told Ottawa CBC radio on Friday the Liberal government is expected to table an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act this fall lowering the default speed limit to 40 kilometres per hour from 50.

“Fifty kilometres an hour is too fast,” the Ottawa-Centre MPP told CBC, adding he supports the move to lower the speed limit.

“If you look at some other jurisdictions, like New York City and Paris, you’ll see they’re taking the same initiatives,” Naqvi said. “And I think it will put Ontario in a leadership place in North America by reducing the speed by these 10 kilometres an hour,” he said.

Neither Naqvi nor his office could be reached by the Star for further comment.

Naqvi said in the CBC interview that when he goes door to door “this is an issue that comes up often.”

“You’ve got a lot of young children who play on the street, especially in the summer months.”

“New Democrats are open to ways to improve road safety. As always, we will look closely at any legislation brought forward and consult with police, municipalities, and other stakeholders,” NDP transportation critic Joe Cimino said.

OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes said the OPP we would support any initiative “that will continue to ensure that Ontario highways and roadways remain amongst the safest in North America.”

In Toronto, there has been pressure on city council to lower the default speed even lower to 30 km/h on residential streets in some cases.

Toronto’s chief medical officer Dr. David McKeown in 2012 advocated a 30 km/h speed limit on residential streets and “a citywide speed limit of 40 km/h on all other streets” to reduce the severity of injuries to pedestrians and cyclists.

McKeown made the proposals upon the release of a $45,000 report, “Road to Health: Improving Walking and Cycling in Toronto,” which cited evidence that pedestrians are far less likely to be killed for every 10 km/h reduction below 60 km/h.

“Small increases in traffic speeds results in a disproportionately large increase in pedestrian fatalities,” McKeown wrote.

According to the World Health Organization, almost 50 per cent of pedestrian deaths occur when the car is travelling at 50 km/h. At 80 km/h, the odds of survival are close to nil. But at 30 km/h or slower, more than 90 per cent of those struck make it out alive.

The Star previously reported that reducing deaths is one reason cities such as Paris have put in place, or are pushing for, nearly citywide 30-km/h speed limits. And not only that, say advocates: a 30-km/h limit reduces congestion and energy costs, is environmentally friendly and strengthens a sense of community.

Tory critic MPP Michael Harris said he first wants to see the studies that clearly prove that lowing the speed limit by 10 km/h will saves lives.

“It is important that any changes to the speed limits are based on research and data,” Harris told the Star.

Pat Vinini, executive director for the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) said talk of reducing speed limits is news to here.

“I don’t understand what is behind this proposal. Certainly it is not coming from our members,” she said.

More cities are lowering traffic speed limits, but does it actually make roads safer?

More cities are lowering traffic speed limits, but does it actually make roads safer?

TOM BABIN, CALGARY HERALD

More from Tom Babin, Calgary Herald – 

http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/more-cities-are-lowering-speed-limits-but-does-it-actually-make-roads-safer

Published on: July 10, 2014 – Last Updated: November 26, 2014 11:08 AM MST

child biking traffic safety

After the 12-year-old boy in her neighbourhood was killed by a sport-utility vehicle, Jodi Morel started to do the math.

And tragic mathematics it was. As a member of the traffic committee in her Calgary neighbourhood of Mount Royal, Morel was called to the scene of the collision. She learned the driver was not speeding, but the vehicle was on a street with a 50 km/h speed limit and still had enough force to kill.

“A witness walked me through the scene,” she recalls about that tragic case. “My response was that ‘(The driver) must have been speeding.’ But it was completely legal. In this case, nobody did anything wrong.”

Later, Morel found research showing how deadly a vehicle becomes the faster it is moving, like in the chart below.

Being hit by a slower moving vehicle increases the chance of survival. 

While as many as nine out of 10 pedestrians hit at 20 km/h will survive, for example, at 60 km/h — a speed Morel figures is close enough to the speed limit that few speeding tickets would be issued — as many as 90 per cent will die.

To Morel, this added up to a no-brainer conclusion. One that many jurisdictions around the world are also arriving at: If we want to save lives on city streets, lower speed limits. She subsequently started a campaign to do just that, called Slow Down YYC (on Twitter here)

Dale Calkins, a cycling advocate in Calgary, has similar ideas. He works with 30 For Sunnyside, a group urging 30 km/h speed limits in that community rather than the current default limit of 50 km/h because he think lower speeds is one way to make neighbourhood life safer for pedestrians and cyclists

“We are lacking a conversation on road safety,” he says. “There are a lot of things we should be talking about, and this is one of them.”

Many communities in Calgary struggle to control traffic speed

There are plenty of other people talking about the idea too. Many jurisdictions around the world are reducing speed limits in a bid to reduce the number of automobile deaths. New York City is in the midst of lowering its speed limit to 25 mph (40 km/h) from 30 mph. London drops to 20 mph (32 km/h) on July 20. San Francisco is looking at the same. Even Airdrie has a default speed limit of 30 km/h on residential roads. (Notwithstanding the B.C. government’s recent decision to raise speed limits on a few highways).

While the idea makes intuitive sense — slower-moving vehicles equate to less carnage on the human body — there’s the bigger question: Does it actually work? Do lower speeds make roads safer?

The answer seems to be a resounding yes, albeit with a few caveats. Dr. Don Voaklander, a professor in the school of public policy at the University of Alberta, says there are plenty of studies that show slower moving vehicles not only reduce fatalities, but result in fewer accidents as well. He cited one study that found every one per cent reduction in speed resulted in a two per cent reduction in traffic incidents.

“Reduced speeds not only reduce the severity of (collisions), slower speeds also mean drivers can brake and stop in shorter distances,” Voaklander said. “Speed does kill.”

Those caveats, however, are big ones. There’s no guarantee drivers will blindly obey reduced speed limits. Speeding is a problem today, even with a 50 km/h limit. So Voaklander says enforcement of those limits is key, especially on those wide suburban residential roads in which drivers feel safe going fast.

So if lower speed limits are such a no-brainer for safety (and a host of other reasons, from improved street life to reduced pollution), why isn’t it being done? In Calgary, there are jurisdictional  considerations — a blanket change to default limits in Calgary would require a change by the provincial government — but reducing speed limits is rarely supported by drivers. Despite speed being cited as a problem in some polls by 70 to 80 per cent of community members, there’s a lack of both political and societal will to change them. Nobody, it seems, wants their commute slowed, and such debates tend to pit commuting voters against voters living in those communities being driven through.

A study in 2006 by the OECD into speed management suggested a reason for this is psychology of drivers. Basically, it said drivers rarely think of themselves as doing something risky, even when we’re aware of the dangers of driving. Here’s an excerpt from that report:

The benefits and disadvantages of lower speeds are not perceived in the same manner by individuals and by the community as a whole. The societal consequences of road accidents are well known, and excessive speed is a major contributing factor. However, for an individual driver, the risk of being involved in an accident is relatively small and the driver therefore rarely experiences the worst safety consequences of excessive speed. The more journeys a driver completes successfully at a higher speed, the more the notion that high speeds are safe is reinforced….This contradiction between societal and individual consequences makes it a challenge to create sound speed management.

Voaklander had a more simple reason for the rejection of the idea: “Everybody thinks they’re a great driver,” he says. “We have a sense that we’re in this contained, safe (state). That we’re omnipotent”

So how is that sentiment combated? Voaklander says just as important as enforcement is education about the dangers of speeding and the benefits of the reductions. It can be a slow process, but it may be the only solution.

Few people think reduced speed limits are a panacea. But paired with education, traffic calming initiatives and enforcement, they can help make roads safer. Public sentiment seems to be swinging in that direction. Voaklander pointed to a recent plebiscite in Morinville, north of Edmonton, in which residents voted to keep photo radar because of concerns about safety, a result he wouldn’t have expected in the past, when we were more blase about traffic injuries.

Jodi Morel, for one, vows to keep raising the issue in memory of the boy killed in her neighbourhood.

“I find it surprising that people don’t understand this idea. The amount of time (a driver would save with a higher speed limit) isn’t worth the safety of somebody else,” she says. “I think if they understand that people could get killed, they might change their mind.”

 Leave a comment below or follow me on Twitter, Google Plus,or Facebook, or drop me a line via email me at tbabin@calgaryherald.com.

NYC Allowed to Cut Speed Limit to 25 MPH to Lower Traffic Deaths

Bloomberg Post – link here

A bill that would allow New York City to lower its speed limit to 25 miles per hour was approved by the state legislature.

The measure, backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, would reduce the limit in most areas from 30 miles (48 kilometers) per hour and was passed yesterday. More than 250 people are killed and almost 4,000 seriously injured in city traffic crashes each year, according to a memo by the bill’s sponsor, Senator Jeffrey Klein, a Bronx Democrat.

“Slowing down by even five miles per hour is going to save lives that otherwise could have been lost in senseless traffic accidents,” Klein said in an e-mailed statement.

Rich Azzopardi, a spokeswoman for Governor Andrew Cuomo, declined to comment on the measure.

De Blasio, 53, took office in January as the first Democrat to lead the metropolis in two decades. Lowering the limit is a key component of his Vision Zero plan to end pedestrian traffic deaths, which also includes public outreach and enhanced police enforcement. In April, the legislature approved his plan to add 120 speed cameras in school zones.

Lowering the limit to 25 mph would reduce the chance of fatalities in accidents involving pedestrians to 10 percent from 20 percent, the memo said.

Vision Zero is modeled on a program in Sweden, where a law adopted by the parliament in 1997 sets the goal for traffic fatalities at zero. Since its adoption, traffic engineers have reworked roadways to limit the danger of human error and traffic fatalities have been cut in half, the New York Times reported last month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Freeman Klopott in Albany at fklopott@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman atsmerelman@bloomberg.net Stacie Sherman