50 to 30 in Edmonton playground zones: it’s about time

Edmonton’s municipal government gave the green light to a new policy that will lower the speed limit on Edmonton playgrounds from 50 km/hour to 30 km/h. City councilors were unanimous in their vote to enact this new policy.

The city’s decision to lower speed limits is timely and sensible. Such an initiative is aimed to protect children, especially those aged 5-14. Very young children still lack the cognitive competence to judge the speed and distance of an oncoming vehicle, which in turn makes them vulnerable to unattentive and reckless motorists. Children aged 5-14 are at a ‘the highest incidence of ‘pedestrian-related injuries.’

The City of Edmonton is not alone in thinking that there is a need to make playground zones and areas safer to young pedestrians, behind neighbouring cities like Calgary, Medicine Hat, and St. Albert which already implemented 30 km/h in their playgrounds.

Lowering the speed limit to 30 km/h in areas where there is a high contingency of children is sensible. The City’s research suggests that the braking distance can be as high as 25 meters (plus 10 if the road is icy or wet) for vehicles going on 50 km/h, as opposed to only about 7 meters for those going at 30 km/h. With bad road conditions coming soon as the winter season sets in, it is also very timely to enforce this new speed limit so drivers can start getting acquainted with the speed adjustment.

In addition to that, the City of Edmonton has recently approved the motion to lower speed limits on Edmonton’s elementary and junior high schools, another way to protect young children crossing the road.

From an economic perspective, the new speed limit will create fuel savings. In fact, decreasing your speed lower than 50 km/h can be considered as .25 cents saved on gas. Hence, the lower speed limit on playgrounds will compel motorists not only to look out for children crossing the road, but to save on gas.

Some may frown on this policy due to the increase to their usual travel time. However, since most playgrounds only stretch to about 150 meters, the city’s local government said the new speed limit would add no more than 10 seconds to a person’s commute. It will probably take you longer to warm up your car in the winter or to grab a double-double at a drive-thru than to follow this new speed limit aimed at protecting vulnerable pedestrians from being hit (and you from being prosecuted for criminal charges).

Aside from that worry about this new policy, people who are suspicious about the integrity of our photo radar system might also cast their misgivings concerning the city’s motive behind this change. However, City officials confirmed that only playgrounds in residential areas would have new signs and increased enforcement system to catch speeders. The City plans to add fences instead on playground areas close to roads meant to be 50 km/h and above. Plus, the Government of Alberta has been already notified about the complaints regarding the integrity of our photo radar system and has vowed to review it.

It is better to be safe than sorry. Slow down in playground zones!

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