Speed Limit Reductions:

They're just one small part of The City's traffic safety strategy

Published Thursday, September 27, 2018

This week, Calgary City Council voted in favour of several new traffic safety initiatives, including consideration of speed-reductions in residential areas, specifically on un-marked side-streets.

As a result, over the next year, we’ll be researching the benefits and costs of reducing speeds on these roads to either 30 km/h or 40 km/h, and providing opportunities for you to give us feedback.

While this will be an important conversation, our Safer Mobility Plan is not just about reducing speeds. We’ve implemented safety programs and pilots that aim to keep pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and vehicle occupants all safer on Calgary streets.

Here’s a look at some of the work we’re doing:

Adaptive Sidewalks

In 2017 and 2018, we built four adaptive sidewalks as a way to provide a safe, dedicated space for pedestrians by altering streets.

Adaptive sidewalks are used where there’s no existing sidewalk, or we can’t build a traditional one. They’re intended for pedestrians, including people who use mobility scooters, wheelchairs, strollers or children under the age of 14 on bicycles.

As part of the Pedestrian Strategy, we are also looking for ways to build missing connections within the sidewalk network. Adaptive sidewalks will help eliminate some of the sidewalk gaps or missing links that exist in our sidewalk network. Providing these connections will help people walking to safely connect to the destinations they are travelling to.

Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI)

We are currently doing a trial on Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI), which is another of the actions of Calgary’s pedestrian strategy.

The Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) is a technique of timing traffic signals to give pedestrians an advanced walk signal. These give pedestrians a 3-7 second head start over turning vehicles, allowing them to clear the crosswalk earlier and keeping them safer when navigating intersections.  

LPIs also enhance the visibility of pedestrians in the intersection and reinforce pedestrian right-of-way over turning vehicles, especially in locations with a history of conflicts. LPIs have been shown to reduce pedestrian-vehicle collisions as much as 60% at treated intersections.

LPIs are being implemented at several locations across Calgary so that we can study their performance locally.

Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs)

Since 2012, The City has installed 131 pedestrian RRFBs (Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons) at crosswalks across Calgary. These flashing light crossings are expected to improve vehicle-yielding compliance to pedestrians and pedestrian safety. 

Calgary is the national leader in implementation of RRFBs and we received the Transportation Association of Canada Road Safety Engineering Award for the RRFB Pilot. In the next several years, we’ll evaluate the RRFBs to see what safety benefits they provide in terms of collisions and injury reduction.

Traffic calming curbs

Over the past three years, we’ve installed temporary traffic calming curbs (yellow, oval concrete blocks) at more than 60 locations, including intersections and corridors.  Traffic calming curbs have been shown to reduce speeds, reduce pedestrian crossing distance, improve pedestrian visibility (resulting in improved vehicle yielding to pedestrians), improve stop sign compliance, and reduce collisions.

We’ll continue to monitor the effectiveness of these curbs and make recommendations on more permanent solutions moving forward.

Automated/video-based conflict analysis (VBCA)

We are trialing the new automated video-based conflict analysis technology which is capable of analyzing video recordings of an roadway to examine collision data between road users. This new source of data is particularly useful in studying interactions involving vulnerable road users, which are often less frequent, but of high severity. In addition, details of events leading up to a conflict help us understand site conditions and choose the most appropriate solution to resolve the issue.

VBCA can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of trials of new and emerging countermeasures and enables automated data collection techniques, such as volume counts, speed measurements, and violations.

School Zone/Playground zone harmonization

Between 2014 and 2016, we changed 197 school zones into playground zones to make the rules clearer for Calgarians. A study by the University of Calgary found that the harmonization resulted in a reduction in speeds and an increase in speed compliance is linked to improved safety for all road users.

After these areas were turned into playground zones, we found:

  • The mean speed decreased from 36 km/h to 30 km/h.
  • Overall, the number of collisions involving pedestrians within school and playground zones decreased by 33%, with a 70% decrease between 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Additional work

Other improvements made to improve traffic, pedestrian and cyclist safety include:

  • Continuing to review high pedestrian-collision locations and implementing improvements, which include signal improvements, ladder crosswalks, lighting improvements, among others.
  • Installing supplementary side-mounter flashers at pedestrian corridor (overhead flasher) crosswalks to improve safety and visibility.
  • Piloting fluorescent yellow-green pedestrian crosswalk signs as part of a national TAC study.
  • Implementing and investigating reflective sleeves at pedestrian crosswalks.  So far, findings indicated a positive impact to yielding compliance.
  • Expanding the SLOWS program – these are the speed trailers on the side of the road that shows motorists how fast they are going.

Provide your input at our Traffic Safety Meetings

In 2019, The City will engage Calgarians on recommendations to change the speed on some residential roads to either 30 km/h or 40 km/h.

Prior to that, we will continue to hold Ward Traffic Safety Meetings at which you will have an opportunity to provide us with your thoughts on speed, traffic calming, playground zones and trouble spots.

And you do not need to live in the Ward to attend these meetings – they are open to everyone. For more information about these meetings including dates, times and locations, visit the Ward Traffic Safety Meetings page on Calgary.ca