VANCOUVER, B.C. – On Tuesday May 14, 2019, City Council will vote on Councillor Pete Fry’s motion aimed at lowering the speed limit on residential side streets (roadways without a centre line) to 30 km per hour. His motion asks for a pilot program to be developed in Vancouver and requests that the city work through the Union of B.C. Municipalities to lobby for changes to the provincial Motor Vehicle Act that would allow municipalities to set their own default speed limit.
Since bringing the motion to Council on April 14, 2019, emails of support for the motion have been coming from individuals and communities across the city and the province, including other municipal leaders, safety experts and public health professionals.
In a letter of support from Vancouver Coastal Health’s public health team, Dr. Emily Newhouse writes “A robust body of evidence demonstrates that lower speed limits are effective… setting speed limits to 30 km/h on local streets has demonstrated reductions of serious injuries and fatalities from 25%-65%.”
“I appreciate that Vancouver Coastal Health has reached out to show their evidence-based support” said Fry. “To me it’s obvious, slowing down saves lives; it’s encouraging that the leading health authority in our region sees this motion as a key to happier and healthier communities.
“I want to be clear that this is intended for local neighbourhood streets. The motion as applies to the provincial Motor Vehicle Act, specifies that communities would have the authority to set their own default speed limits, and adjust limits where it’s appropriate.”
VCH’s letter of support cites a number of studies reinforcing that slowing down saves lives and prevents injuries.
“The scientific literature is very clear,” the letter states, “speed is always a factor in collisions and injuries. When a crash does occur at a lower speed, the individuals involved have better survival and injury rates than their counterparts in higher speed crashes. This is especially critical for vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists.”
Councillor Fry is deeply passionate about this issue; his political advocacy work began as a result of a close friend suffering a traumatic head injury, after being hit by a car in his Strathcona neighbourhood ten years ago. He has been fighting for safer, slower streets ever since.