Winnipeg speed limit pilot posting positive results – Winnipeg

Residents living in one of a few Winnipeg neighbourhoods testing out lower speed limits say they’re already noticing an improvement in their freedom of movement in the area.

Morgan Willacy, a resident in the Bourkevale area of the city, said walkability in the neighbourhood is already better.

“It just makes life a little easier,” she said Saturday afternoon while taking her dog for a walk.

In March speed limits in Tyndall Park South and Bourkevale dropped to 30 kilometres per hour, while Richmond West and Worthington neighbourhoods fell to 40 km/h as part of a year-long pilot project looking at the future of city-wide residential speed limits.

Daevid Ramey, a fellow Bourkevale resident, launched a campaign to advocate for lower speeds in the area in the midst of the pandemic when he noticed more people were spending time outdoors.

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“We noticed even though there are people on the street and lots of people walking, cars weren’t slowing down. And if you were to confront them out of feeling unsafe they would say that they were going the speed limit and it’s their right to do that,” he said.

“And so we thought, let’s change that.”

At the time of the pilot’s launch, the city said the goal was to determine whether changing the speed limit in residential areas changed how fast vehicles actually travelled and whether the change affects neighbourhood livability.

Public Works Committee Chair Janice Lukes, who has been pushing for lowered speeds, said in February the pilot is also a case study in how it can change a neighbourhood’s well-being.

“When you densify a city and increase the population, more people are using their yards, streets, driveways, and if the traffic is calmed, it improves the quality of life,” she said.

Decades-long Bourkevale resident Robert Froese said he can’t imagine the speed limit going back to what it was, pointing to the lack of infrastructure in the area.

Few or no sidewalks in the area, combined with Assiniboine Avenue acting as a collector street for one-way roads forces residents on feet and behind the wheel to share the road, Froese said.

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“Until we get a sidewalk and a proper bike path we don’t want the speed limit back to where it was,” he said.

As for enforcement of the speed limit, Lukes said in March it’s up to police whether drivers caught going above posted signage will be ticketed.

The City of Winnipeg could not provide updated enforcement numbers in the neighbourhood on Sunday.

Ramey said when he was campaigning for the lowered speed some residents were hesitant to get on board because they saw it as a way for the city to cash in on drivers not privy to the change, but the campaign co-director wanted to reframe the project to its core purpose: safety.

“It’s about creating a safe space for our neighbourhoods, and just to take that thought process out of as you’re driving through your neighbourhood, you shouldn’t have to think about what the speed limit is,” he said.

“There’s houses, there’s people, it’s 30. Let’s just keep it simple.”

Residents will be able to share their thoughts on speed limits in a larger, city-wide engagement early next year.

with files from Iris Dyck

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg an outlier among major Canadian cities that have reduced residential speed limits'

Winnipeg an outlier among major Canadian cities that have reduced residential speed limits

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