Speeding versus community livability

May 2014

I have heard much concern on the issue of speed limits, and photo radar over the past few months. While we all need to get from point A to point B quickly, efficiently and safely, it is important to remember that much of our travelling goes through peoples’ neighbourhoods and communities.

From a high level, city transportation is the constant interplay and balancing of efficient and safe travel, while protecting the vibrancy of existing communities. When a main artery travels through a neighbourhood, it has significant effects on the livability, sense of place, walkability, and community orientation of that area. Essentially, the ability of residents to utilize the spaces and opportunities outside of their private property becomes restricted. Examples include, the community’s ability to socially congregate in public spaces, pedestrian accessibility to local conveniences such as stores and parks, safe use of public spaces for children’s play like road hockey or bike riding, and overall perception of safety within the area, among much more. Over time, neighbourhoods that absorb considerable cut through traffic, increased volumes on arteries, and consistent speeding, become less desirable areas to reside, especially for families and seniors. This negative connection between speeding vehicular traffic and community livability is the reason why speed enforcement is so important.

Studies have shown that your chance of survival in a collision with a vehicle travelling at 50km/hr is 45%. Drop that speed down to 40km/hr and you are looking at survival rates of about 73%. Furthermore, a 1km/hr increase in travelling speed attributes to a 3% higher risk of a crash involving injury, with a 4-5% increase for crashes that result in fatalities.

While I have heard from many residents complaining about overuse of traffic enforcement, I have also heard from many others who are asking for further enforcement within their neighbourhood in an effort to maintain it’s livability.

At the end of the day, the role of traffic enforcement is to ensure that those who are driving, are driving safely and are being considerate of others. It is not about a war on the car, and it is not a cash grab; it is about ensuring that all people, no matter what transportation mode, are able to move efficiently and safely through the city.

Feel free to reach me at 780 496 8146 or ben.henderson@edmonton.ca. You can also follow me on Twitter @ben_hen.

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