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Support for 30 km/h pilot grows

UPDATE: See the note about the Highlands below

Exciting news as View Royal, Esquimalt, Oak Bay and Sidney have all joined Saanich and Victoria in the 30 km/h pilot project. This means the entirety of the region’s core will be covered, as well as part of the peninsula. Sadly both Central and North Saanich declined to join, but there is still time to convince both.

Oak Bay and Esquimalt join

On April 12th, both Oak Bay and Esquimalt joined the 30 km/h, although the two municipalities differed greatly in how long they discussed it – Esquimalt passed it unanimously in about 45 seconds, while Oak Bay spent almost 45 minutes talking it over, with both Mayor Murdoch and Councillor Braithwaite voting against it. The problem is Oak Bay is their deeply-flawed 2016 Speed Limit Review, which recommended a default speed of 40 km/h

Fixing Oak Bay’s flawed speed limit review

We’re going to run a longer piece on the review as it was a major point of discussion on the 12th, but the quick version is that in 2016 Oak Bay undertook a review of their speed limits. The biggest flaw in the review comes from it’s adherence to a now-discredited method of setting speed limits called “85% percentile” that says that speed limits should be set essentially by how fast drivers speed – only 15% of all drivers speeds should be above the speed limit. Here is what we said in 2016:

While current engineering practice sets the traffic speed limit at or below the 85th percentile operating speed (being the speed which no more than 15% of traffic is exceeding), this approach has been heavily criticized as “rewarding speeders” while not dealing with the larger issue of overly wide streets that induce that speeding.

The GVCC calls on Oak Bay to follow the modal hierarchy established by their OCP and existing Complete Streets Policies when it comes to setting speeds on streets. Rather than raising speed limits and reward speeding, Oak Bay  should lower speed limits and change road design. Oak Bay should adopt a target speed of 30 km/h on residential and collector streets and 40 km/h on arterial streets, changing the streets rather than the speed limit.

The inclusion of the older report in the agenda did cause some concern among Oak Bay advocates, who flagged the report as recommending higher speeds on Oak Bay’s roads

That lead to this Oak Bay News story, highlighting about that it was an older report and not directly based on the 30 km/h pilot. Clearly even these older reports can cause damage long after they are finished. We were happy to see so much councillors state they felt the review was “done in a different time”, but are hopeful that in the future the municipality can either rescind or redo the report with a focus on safety, not speeding.

Peninsula split

All three peninsula municipalities talked about the speed limit pilot on Apr 12th, with different results in each. Happily Sidney voted to join the pilot, while disappointingly North Saanich voted unanimously to decline and Central Saanich split the difference by voting to ask what Sidney and North Saanich were doing.

Central Saanich spent a great deal of time discussing it, with their council deciding not to even send 30 km/h to their Traffic Safety Committee for discussion in a split vote – Councillors Jensen, King and Paltiel voting to at least talk about 30 km/h. Thanks to them for supporting safer speeds.

Sadly it looks like there was an issue with our email system, so those that wrote into North Saanich we’re heard on Monday night. We are looking into the issue and will be following up with district staff to make sure they know that there are members of the public that support 30 km/h

UPDATE: Highlands already mostly 30

Although the Highlands declined to join the 40 km/h pilot project, like View Royal, they declined because most of their roads are already 30 km/h, as specified in their Roads & Traffic bylaw. Hopefully they will join the 30 km/h pilot as it will reduce the need for additional signage.

Next Steps

What’s next? We’re hopeful that like View Royal, other West Shore municipalities can join the 30 km/h pilot, but sadly that is not likely. Stay tuned for when the three peninsula municipalities discuss it again.