by Colin Smith
Should residential speed limits in Morinville be decreased?
That’s one of the issues that may be addressed in a proposed revamp of the town’s Traffic Safety Bylaw.
Adopted under the authority of Alberta’s Municipal Government Act and Traffic Safety Act, the Traffic Safety Bylaw enables the community to govern roadways, vehicles and pedestrians in areas of local autonomy and control.
The current bylaw was approved in January 2013 and hasn’t been amended since then.
In a presentation to council at its July 12 regular meeting, Enforcement Services Supervisor William Norton outlined areas governed by the bylaw where changes could potentially be made.
Local speed limits can be determined by the Traffic Safety Bylaw.
Currently, Morinville’s residential speed limit is set at the provincial default of 50 kilometres per hour, but Norton noted that some municipalities had dropped their limits to 40 or even 30 kph.
Pressed by Councillor Stephen Dafoe for his expert opinion on speeds, Norton indicated he would support a reduced residential limit.
“Dropping that 10 kilometres per hour has an exponential effect on safety,” he said. “So from a safety lens, I would recommend going to 40 kilometres.”
E-scooters are an issue that has surfaced recently.
Classified as a prohibited miniature vehicle under provincial law, e-scooters cannot be operated on roads or sidewalks unless authorized by a bylaw, which has been done in municipalities such as Edmonton and St. Albert.
With no mention in the bylaw, e-scooters are prohibited in Morinville.
Norton said they are currently being used illegally in the community, but rather than seizing and impounding them, he and his officers are taking a wait-and-see approach.
“I think this is something that should be considered in our bylaw,” said Councillor Scott Richardson.
Under the current bylaw, helmets are mandatory for those bicycle riders under the age of 18. There is no requirement for adult cyclists to wear helmets.
Norton recommended that Morinville’s traffic safety bylaw make it clear that helmets are required for children using any type of wheeled vehicle, including scooters and skateboards as well as bicycles, but leave adults to make their own decisions on helmet use.
That reflected the comments of several councillors concerned about limiting personal freedom.
Other issues include school and playground zones, trailer parking, vehicle idling, truck and dangerous goods routes and school bus flashing light use.
Taking council views into account, the administration will review the Traffic Safety Bylaw and either propose revisions or draft a new one for its consideration toward the end of 2022 or early next year.
The need for a review of the Traffic Safety Bylaw in 2022 was identified in a department business plan.
That followed recommendations of traffic safety studies done in recent years, including updates, called for in the 2020 Transportation Master Plan.
Traffic safety trends have changed, and there are numerous challenges with the current bylaw’s structure, effectiveness and predictability, Norton stated.