As expected, council’s community and public services committee gave the go ahead Monday to bring in a speed limit of 30 km/hr in school zones around Edmonton’s junior highs. It comes two years after the slower speed limits were introduced to over 200 elementary schools after a 40 year absence.
Now the city’s transportation department will work out the logistics of what to do with a long stretch of road, like you’d find on 144 ave where several schools are a few blocks apart.
“We would want to look at that and see what makes sense from a driver’s perspective and a pedestrian’s perspective,” said Gord Cebryk, the city’s branch manager for traffic operations. “Whether that becomes one long zone or zones with breaks, we would need to do that review.”
“Certainly you want to be consistent and have drivers expect a certain type of driving condition so the best alternative for those situations is maybe to have one long zone and that would be part of the review we would do.”
Councillors are also asking now for high schools to one day be added to the inventory. Committee chair, Coun. Bev Esslinger said school zones around high schools would teach young drivers good habits from the outset. “Not only are we having people walking but we have a lot of new drivers in and around schools so I think it’s something we need to look at.”
“The challenge is, many of our high schools are on arterial rounds so I think we have to spend more time looking at what that could mean.”
A report will come back next year on how to deal with high schools being on main roads, and if more infrastructure like lighted cross walks would need to be installed instead of reducing the speed limit said Gerry Shimko of the office of traffic safety. He didn’t think it would take long to add them to the inventory, because they are relatively few in number.
Council has also asked for a report on playgrounds, and how they’d fit into speed reduction. “We’ve heard that from many residents. Have you thought about playgrounds?” Esslinger said. “So we’re asking our administration to do a deeper review, because we know that some communities across Alberta, they do have them when they’re beside and elementary school. I’d like to understand that a little bit more.”
There are 600 playgrounds in the city, Shimko told reporters, and they need to do an inventory of how many are adjacent to schools and how many are stand alone. He said they could adopt the model used in Calgary where a school zone with a play ground attached would see dawn to dusk enforcement. That report will come back to the committee some time next year.
The 30 km/hr speed limit will be in place around Edmonton’s junior high schools by next September.