City looks at reducing speed limit in neighbourhoods

Brantford is looking at the possibility of reducing speed limits in residential areas to 40 km-h from from the current 50. Postmedia file photo

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The city is looking into how it could give the green light to a lower speed limit on residential streets.

A slew of complaints from residents about speeding and other traffic offences has prompted councillors to ask city staff to investigate how the municipality could reduce the posted speed limit to 40 km-h from 50 km-h in neighbourhoods. Collector and arterial roads would be excluded.

“I’m hopeful that within a year or two we will have a community with an average speed limit that is much lower,” said Mayor Kevin Davis.

A provincial law that took effect in 2018 gives cities the power to lower speeds for entire neighbourhoods by posting so-called “gateway” signs where motorists enter and exit communities.

Coun. Rick Weaver is chair of the city’s Vision Zero committee, which considers how to improve traffic safety. He said city staff is reaching out to the City of Ottawa, where traffic on residential streets has been slowed to 40 km-h.

In July, Hamilton city council voted to gradually, over the next three years, lower the limit from to 40 km-h from 50 on local and minor collector roadways in an effort to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on neighbourhood roads. It will also reduce the limits to 30 km-h within 150 metres of a school boundary. The change is expected to cost about $2.5 million.

Brantford is also looking into the possibility of installing red light cameras and photo radar. The cameras, in place in many municipalities, capture an image of a vehicle that has entered an intersection on a red light. Photo radar captures a photograph of a speeding vehicle.

Weaver said red light cameras are portable and can be moved to different intersections.

“It’s something I think we need,” he said. “I’ve heard from hundreds of people with (traffic) concerns.”

Weaver said that while the city has police officers assigned to traffic, they’re often pulled off those duties when needed to deal with more serious issues.

“There’s not a lot of traffic enforcement unless the police are conducting a blitz,” he said.

In a study of eight Ontario municipalities that have red light cameras, collisions resulting in deaths and injury have dropped by more than 25 per cent.

During last year’s municipal election campaign, Davis and a number of councillors said the No. 1 issue for constituents are complaints about traffic – drivers speeding, racing, doing burnouts and running red lights.

The mayor said drivers are often confused because there isn’t a consistent speed limit in the city.

At a meeting this week, Coun. John Sless got support for a resolution to reduce the speed limit on Balmoral Drive, which serves as both a collector road and a local road. The speed limit varies from 50 to 40 km-h in different places. Sless’s resolution brings the speed down to 40 km-h on Balmoral between Allensgate Drive and Somerset Road.

Davis said he also likes the traffic-calming measures, such as portable speed bumps, changing the configuration of busy roads, and adding bicycle lanes.

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