Editorial: Morinville’s Speed Limit Reduction – A Step Towards Safety, But More Explanation Needed

On June 1, 2024, Morinville implemented a significant change to its residential traffic laws, reducing the speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h in residential areas. This decision, part of the recently approved Traffic Safety Bylaw, aligns with a growing trend in municipalities across Alberta to prioritize pedestrian safety through lower speed limits.

Research supports the rationale behind reducing speed limits. Studies indicate that every 10 km/h reduction in vehicle speed substantially decreases the risk of pedestrian fatalities. For instance, a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found the risk of severe injury for a pedestrian hit by a car travelling at 50 km/h was about 80%, whereas the risk of severe injury at 40 km/hr was only 25% and only 10% at 25 km/h. While lower speeds typically result in fewer collisions, the motivation behind a lower speed limit is fewer severe pedestrian (not driver) injuries in the event of a collision.

Despite the clear safety benefits, the Town of Morinville and its elected officials have fallen short in one crucial area: communication. While residents were effectively informed about what the new speed limits would be and when they would take effect, they were not adequately informed why it was felt these changes were necessary. This lack of context has led to some public confusion and skepticism about the new speed limits.

At the time of its passing, Councillor Ray White praised the community engagement process, stating, “A lot of work has gone into this, and there has been a lot of conversation and changes made, and I think good changes.” However, without a clear explanation of the underlying safety benefits, these efforts may not fully resonate with the public. Understanding the life-saving potential of reduced speed limits could create greater community support and compliance.

The new bylaw also includes several other provisions aimed at enhancing safety, such as adjustments to school bus flashing light restrictions and updates to playground and school zone timings. The implementation costs, estimated at $17,500, cover the replacement of speed limit signs and the development of a communications plan.

While the decision to reduce residential speed limits to 40 km/h in Morinville is a commendable step towards improving pedestrian and cyclist safety in the event of a collision, something the Municipality’s strategic plan has made a priority over the past three years, the Town must do more to communicate the reasons behind these changes.

Clear, evidence-based explanations can help ensure that residents understand and support these important measures, ultimately leading to a safer community for everyone.

 

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5 Comments

  1. How many pedestrian/ vehicle collisions have occurred in the last ten yrs?
    Any deaths?
    Which councillor was so inundated with speed reduction requests that they put this motion forward?
    Just because other municipalities have done this does not mean we needed too!!
    Are we going to get some electric busses too?
    Or did administration bring this forward?
    Admin is notorious for bringing forward the need for new rules/procedures/ systems etc, all the while complaining that their basket of ‘to do’s’ is over full!!
    And…….of course cost is no object with all the cash we have just laying around…..

    • You are so RIGHT. Well done. How many accidents, serous injuries and deaths have there been year by year in the last 10 years? These people we elect have nothing better to do than little by little chip away at our quality of life in Morinvilke. Thank the one above that the province is taking care of photo radar. That is just so unjust and unethical to raise money by going after the poor residences on their way to work each morning.

  2. I’m surprised at the negative comments. Is there really any residential road where it is imperative to go 50 kmph? Is 40 really going to impact travel time? Where I live it is common for multiple cars, trucks and bikes to blast by at 60 kmph and higher many times a day. I doubt that they will obey a 40 speed limit but maybe they slow down a bit. I am totally in favour of any effort to slow down traffic in residential areas. Think of how many pedestrians, children playing or cyclists this might help. More communication and enforcement is definitely required to make this change effective.

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