New 40 km/h speed limits take effect for most Edmonton residential and downtown streets

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Edmontonians will need to hit the breaks as new speed limits have come into affect for many city streets.

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Most residential and downtown streets, including parts of Whyte Avenue and Jasper Avenue, now have a speed limit of 40 km/h. The change won’t impact most of the city’s major roads. The city released a new online feature to help drivers calculate driving distances, a map of affected roads, along with other educational tools on their website to help people adjust.

Jessica Lamarre, the city’s director of safe mobility, said Friday the move supports the Edmonton’s “Vision Zero” plan to eliminate serious injuries and fatalities on the streets.

The new speed limit “helps make our streets calmer, safer and quieter, and it really does contribute to a more livable and safe Edmonton,” she told reporters.

Lamarre said slowing down will have a big impact on road safety. Apart from signage, education is a big part of the change as well, she said.

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“When we’re driving a vehicle, our brains and our minds can only take in so much information. When we slow down we have more time to see more around us and react to anything that may be going on,” Lamarre said.

“I think that we will have a natural adjustment to this. I really do believe Edmontonians want safe and livable streets.”

Crews clean up following a press conference about Edmonton’s new 40 km/h speed limit for residential streets, Friday Aug. 6, 2021. Photo by David Bloom
Crews clean up following a press conference about Edmonton’s new 40 km/h speed limit for residential streets, Friday Aug. 6, 2021. Photo by David Bloom Photo by David Bloom David Bloom /David Bloom/Postmedia

A grace period is in effect until Sept. 1 for photo radar, and speeders will be mailed a warning instead of a ticket. But for areas not covered by cameras, whether or not tickets are issued before the fall will be up to police.

There were 12 traffic fatalities in Edmonton last year. Research by the city released as part of the safe mobility strategy says 80 per cent of fatal and serious crash injuries were because of driver error.

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Edmonton Police Service Insp. Keith Johnson said the department supports the change, especially as traffic is the number one concern that comes up in neighbourhood surveys.

“If you live on Jasper Ave., if you live off Whyte Ave., if you live off 97 Street in the north end, yes it’s going to be noisy, but nobody deserves excessive noise, nobody deserves excessive speed,” he said.

“We do hope that through this speed limit change that people will see the signs, and understand and show respect for the neighbourhoods that they drive through. And in most cases, people do.”

Police issued more than 60,000 tickets last year and have also reported an uptick in drivers going more than 50 km/h over the speed limit.

Officers will be out enforcing speed limits for back to school in September.

Calgary also recently brought in a new default speed limit of 40 km/h in June.

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby

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