*Vancouver to temporarily close streets alongside 3 schools to encourage
The City of Vancouver will be closing the streets in front of three
elementary schools starting Monday to encourage parents to use active
transportation to pick up and drop off their children.
One street running alongside each of Hastings, Lord Roberts and Van Horne
elementary schools will be closed for 30 to 45 minutes during peak pick-up
and drop-off times.
During that time, no motor vehicles will be allowed to enter or exit the
The pilot starts Monday and will be in place until May 7.
The city chose streets that allow nearby residents to still access their
homes. It also has ensured reserved parking or designated pick-up and
drop-off spots for parents or students with disabilities.
'We're really excited'
Ian Rowe, chair of the Lord Roberts parent advisory council, says he and
most parents were glad the city was trying something new to discourage
"School congestion, traffic and safety has been an issue every single
year," Rowe said. "And so we're really excited."
The pilot wasn't most parents' preferred option, Rowe says, in large part
because it requires parent volunteers twice a day, every day, for it to
Rowe says parents at the West End elementary school wanted permanent
infrastructure changes instead, like continuing the separated bike lane
along Comox Street in front of the school in order to make cycling a safer
A few parents objected to the pilot, Rowe says, but the parent advisory
council has been working with them to encourage use of the other two
streets that flank the school where vehicular traffic will still be
- Vancouver drivers now need to slow to 30 km/h in school zones, around
"We're always going to have parents who need to drive," Rowe said.
Health researcher Mariana Brussoni previously told CBC News
that parents face many challenges trying to get their kids to school by
foot or bike — including busy schedules, multiple drop-offs and schools
that are too far away.
School streets around the world
Less than 25 per cent of students
B.C. use active transportation to get to school, according to a written
statement from the Ministry of Transportation last year.
According to the city's webpage for the pilot
school streets are popular in several places around the world and they have
been shown to create a safer environment for children, improve air quality
and encourage active transportation.
- Vancouver pilots 30 km/h 'slow zone' in Grandview-Woodland
In London, England, nearly 350 school streets have been implemented. The
city says 81 per cent of parents there were supportive of the measures,
which reduced nitrogen dioxide air pollution by 23 per cent. As a result,
18 per cent of parents reported driving less.
The city says school streets were also implemented in Toronto and Edinburgh.
*Research supports reduced-speed initiative *
OVER the last 10 years, six million vehicles have been added to Canadian
roads, an increase of almost 20 per cent. Since the 1990s, the average
vehicle horsepower has almost doubled, average vehicle weight has increased
by 26 per cent, cars are 17 per cent larger and 80 per cent of vehicles
sold in Canada today are trucks and SUVs.
In Manitoba, more vehicles and larger, faster vehicles has led to a 50 per
cent increase in collisions resulting in injury during the past decade. On
Winnipeg streets in 2019, the last available statistics, every second day a
pedestrian or cyclist was struck and injured by a driver seriously enough
to be reported. Every third day a pedestrian or cyclist was sent to
hospital, and almost once a month one was killed.
Across the country, nearly one out of every five people killed or seriously
injured in vehicle collisions is not in a vehicle.
All these statistics are inspiring a wave of change across Canada, as
cities are one by one lowering speed limits on residential streets to make
neighbourhoods safer for all road users, and more comfortable for
pedestrians and cyclists.
Montreal led the way in 2019 by making sweeping speed-limit changes across
the city. Main streets were reduced from 50 km/h to 40 km/h and all
residential streets were changed to 30 km/h. Edmonton and Calgary, famous
for their car culture, followed suit and reduced residential speed limits
to 40 km/h. Quebec City recently announced it will match Montreal and go to
30 km/h on most residential streets.
Lowering speed limits to improve road safety is simple physics. The energy
transferred in a collision increases with both mass and velocity — bigger
vehicles moving faster cause more damage. In general, if a pedestrian is
struck by a car travelling at 50 km/h, there is a 50/50 chance of survival,
but when speeds are reduced to 30 km/h, almost all pedestrians survive and
30 per cent will not even suffer an injury, making that speed a magic
number for advocates.
Slower speeds also reduce stopping distances, from 28 metres at 50 km/h to
20 metres at 40 km/h and 13 metres at 30 km/h, which makes roads safer by
reducing the likelihood of collisions. The City of Calgary predicts that by
reducing residential speed limits to 40 km/h, as many as 450 vehicle
collisions will be avoided each year.
Research in several cities has proven that the science has real-world
effects. A study in Toronto showed that between 2013 and 2018, lowering
posted residential speed limits from 40 km/h to 30 km/h reduced pedestrian
collisions by 28 per cent and severe injuries fell by two-thirds. In
Edmonton, implementing 30 km/h school zones has reduced severe pedestrian
collisions by almost half. A 20-year study in the U.K. demonstrated that 30
km/h zones were associated with a 42 per cent decrease in road casualties.
Travelling 50 km/h protected by a 2,000-kilogram metal box may not feel
fast, but for a pedestrian or cyclist, sharing the road with large,
fast-moving vehicles can be unnerving; so much so that it’s a significant
deterrent to active transportation for many people. Slower residential
street traffic not only makes neighbourhoods safer; it also makes them
comfortable and livable, inviting more people to engage in walking and
In response to mounting pressure for change in Winnipeg, Coun. Jeff Browaty
recently commissioned a public survey to ask people if they want to drive
slower. Not surprisingly, more than half of respondents said no. Coun.
Browaty has been using the results as proof that Winnipeggers are opposed
to this change.
Digging beyond the headlines, however, those who support safer streets
might see the results as a victory. Certainly, they provide reason for
optimism. Even with the poll offering little context or background, 44 per
cent of respondents supported reducing speed limits and only one-third were
strongly opposed. In mature neighbourhoods where people walk and bike far
more than they do in the outer suburbs, support was about twice as high.
Without context, people hear reduced residential speed limits, especially
30 km/h, and picture themselves crawling around the city at a snail’s pace.
In response to this misconception, Edmonton launched a successful public
engagement process to outline the impacts. The city even created an app
that allows people to input their destination and see the travel time
difference with the new speed limits. In most cases trips were minimally
Consider that in Winnipeg, 25,000 vehicles per day are driven down Grant
Avenue, and it has the same speed limit as the cul-de-sac your kids play
street hockey on. Portage Avenue downtown is eight lanes wide and has the
same speed limit as the two-lane street you back onto when pulling out of
your garage. Presented with context, it seems illogical not to change the
Public-safety policy is not a popularity contest, and should be based on
data, engineering and science, but Coun. Browaty’s recent poll shows there
is a significant base of support for calmer streets. We take pride in our
city of great neighbourhoods; by using this new polling information as a
springboard to public consultation that broadens support even further, we
can follow the lead of other cities and reduce residential speed limits to
make those great neighbourhoods even better.
*Brent Bellamy is senior design architect for Number Ten Architectural
Wheels in motion on push for active transportation network
IT’S time to make it as easy to cycle or walk throughout Winnipeg as it is
That’s the message to Mayor Brian Bowman, Premier Brian Pallister and
federal cabinet minister Dan Vandal, from a lobby group that has demanded
they take urgent action to provide a connected network of cycling and
walking routes throughout the city.
“Right now, unless you own a personal vehicle, your ability to get around
Winnipeg to access employment, to access services, is really limited. You
either have to use Winnipeg Transit … and your time for that trip is often
twice or even four times as long as it would be for somebody in a personal
vehicle. Or, if you travel on foot or by bike, you often have to face
sections of your route that are very unsafe,” said Mel Marginet of the
Green Action Centre, which is part of the campaign.
Marginet said about 70 per cent of Winnipeg families surveyed by Green
Action Centre said they live within three kilometres or less of their
childrens’ schools. Only about 16 per cent said they walk or bike to get
there, often due to safety concerns, she said.
“People need safe ways to get to work, to school, to run their essential
errands on foot and by bike and that’s really how we’re going to see… a
response to our need for mode shift (from personal vehicle transportation
to greener options),” she said.
Ideally, the group hopes politicians will immediately take steps to add a
temporary grid for a full active transportation network throughout the
city, which would eventually be made permanent.
Marginet welcomed Winnipeg’s temporary “open streets” but says such
recreation options don’t help commuters. Nearly a dozen streets were
designated as “open” in 2020, where vehicular traffic was limited to just
one block from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily to make more room for cyclists and
She said governments should also invest in active transportation to ensure
equity, since Black, Indigenous and people of colour, as well as women and
youth, are more likely to rely on transit, cycling and walking to reach
“(This is) really a response to those (Winnipeggers) to say that you matter
in our society and that our transportation system should offer you
comfortable choices as well,” Marginet said.
Her organization, and representatives from 14 others, signed letters to
lobby for the change, which were hand delivered to the politicians this
week. Members of the group include several community organizations, as well
as the superintendents of the Pembina Trails and Louis Riel school
In an email, Mayor Bowman’s office said he continues to support Winnipeg’s
pedestrian and cycling strategy and “remains open to looking at more ways
the city can be innovative in its approach in the creation of new walking
and cycling paths.”
The statement did not promise specific action.
In a written statement, a spokesperson for Manitoba Municipal Relations
Minister Derek Johnson said his government spent $7.5 million to expand
hiking and biking trails last year.
The statement didn’t promise specific action on a connected active
transportation network for Winnipeg, but noted the city could spend some of
the $75.3 million in provincial capital funding it will receive this year
on that purpose.
Dan Vandal could not be reached for comment.
[snipped from Councillor Lukes' newsletter]
Speeding and Traffic Calming of Streets
The public service has developed a new process to deal with requests for
traffic calming of streets. Over the past few years, the public service has
seen a dramatic increase in requests to investigate how to traffic calm
residential and collector streets. The engineers have developed a six step
process starting with a resident making a request. See details here: Traffic
Federal funds committed to active transportationLocal projects could
benefit from federal strategy, $400m fund
Although "if you build it, they will come" was written about a baseball
diamond in an Iowa cornfield, it could very well have been writing about
active transportation routes.
In March, the federal government pledged $400 million towards the country’s
first active transportation fund, and the development of Canada’s first
National Active Transportation Strategy. The purpose of the strategy,
according to its official website, is to "co-ordinate active transportation
investments that reflect best practice planning, design, regulations, and
standards across levels of government, Indigenous communities,
not-for-profits and the private sector."
The announcement was great news for longtime proponents of AT. The Winnipeg
Trails Association called the announcement: "Excellent news for all
Canadian communities at a time we need it most."
Local politicians also welcomed the announcement, noting a number of
projects across the northeast that could benefit from the fund, though most
expressed a cautious optimism that the money will find its way onto
Daniel Blaikie, MP for Elmwood-Transcona, noted that northeast Winnipeg is
home to a number of great active transportation routes, like the Northeast
Pioneers Greenway and the Transcona Trail. However, getting from one to the
other remains problematic.
"These options help people engage in activities or commute to work without
use of a vehicle," Blaikie said. "We need to work on those connecting
nodes, so people can use that whole network in a seamless way that they can
feel safe and comfortable and use a network that allows them to explore the
Coun. Shawn Nason (Transcona) echoed those sentiments, adding that he would
like to see funding go towards a number of projects in Transcona that have
been delayed for too long, including an AT pathway along either Regent or
Reenders to Panet Road.
"Is there a way to figure that out in that section, a dedicated way to
cycling?" Nason said, noting that finishing that route had been included in
the 2018 budget, but was removed at the last minute.
Nason would also like to see the AT route on Pandora, which currently ends
at Day Street, completed, as well as a route through Canterbury Park
connecting to the Transcona Trail.
"If there’s a windfall, I’d like to see those connections made," Nason said.
Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan), who sits on the city’s standing policy
committee on infrastructure renewal and public works, said he’d like to
access support "to plant additional trees along the Northeast Pioneer’s
Greenway in North Kildonan."
Coun. Jason Schreyer (Elmwood-East Kildonan) added that there are a pair of
studies ongoing in his ward to improve bike routes, particularly along Roch
"I’m always into experiments, because if we don’t try things we can’t
discuss them," Schreyer said.
"What’s missing in the area is actually remarkably simple," said Michel
Durand-Wood, an executive with the Glenelm Neighbourhood Association and
author of the popular blog Dear Winnipeg... "We just need to focus on
making it easier for residents to get to the stuff in our neighbourhood,
like local businesses, services, parks, etc."
Durand-Wood would like to see an investment in "more space for people,"
rather than cars, in local neighbourhoods.
"Do we want a neighbourhood that is vibrant, accessible to all including
seniors, children and those with disabilities, with tons of thriving local
businesses that are easy to walk to?" he said. "Or do we want a place that
is fast to drive through?"
For more information on the federal program, visit
Most city drivers want speed limit kept as is: poll
WINNIPEGGERS don’t want the speed limit lowered on residential streets, a
new poll has found, despite a strong lobby effort to get city hall to slow
A Probe Research poll commissioned by Coun. Jeff Browaty asked 600
Winnipeggers about reducing the default speed limit on residential streets.
A majority (56 per cent) said they opposed the change, while 44 per cent
If given a chance to vote on a plebiscite to reduce the residential speed
limit to 30 km/h from 50 km/h, 66 per cent said they would vote “no,” 26
per cent said they’d vote “yes” and eight per cent weren’t sure.
Browaty (North Kildonan), who opposes lowering the limit, said the findings
show most Winnipeggers agree with him.
“It is pretty clear that… most of Winnipeg is opposed to the 30 (km/h speed
limit) and lowering it in general,” he said.
The councillor said he hopes the feedback will help to convince his council
colleagues to keep the current residential speed limit. Last year, the
majority of council members voted in favour of a one-year pilot project to
test a 30 km/h speed limit on five residential streets, though no exact
date has been set for that to begin. Browaty opposed the change.
He said he remains convinced the city shouldn’t pursue speed reductions
because roads are safe under the current limits.
“I think there are a lot of responsible people who, on the more major local
streets, will drive up to 50 km/h and can do so safely,” he said. “I hope
these polling numbers will give an opportunity for my colleagues to reflect
on what their constituents are thinking.”
The Probe Research poll surveyed a random and representative sample of 600
Winnipeg adults online and by phone between March 10 and 21. The results
are considered accurate within plus or minus 4.9 percentage points, with 95
per cent certainty.
Winnipeg groups that have pushed council to reduce the speed limit argue
the change is needed to improve safety.
And that risk is why all speed limit decisions must be handled by experts,
not guided by public opinion, said Mark Cohoe, executive director of Bike
“We’re not putting fire regulations to a plebiscite, why are we putting
traffic safety to a plebiscite? We lose lives in this city due to people
getting hit by cars. It’s unfortunate and I think we want to make sure that
goes down to zero,” said Cohoe.
The World Health Organization says pedestrians have a 90 per cent chance of
survival when hit by a car travelling at 30 kilometres per hour, but that
drops to less than 50 per cent when the car travels at 45 km/h.
Mel Marginet, a sustainable transportation co-ordinator for the Green
Action Centre, said she’s not surprised by the opposition to a reduced
speed limit, something for which she has advocated.
“Change is always hard and… a majority of Winnipeggers get around by
personal vehicles and few people experience their neighbourhood on foot or
by bike. So I think we just minimize that threat or we don’t appreciate how
intimidating that is,” said Marginet.
She expects public support would grow for a reduced speed limit on
residential streets once Winnipeggers try them out.
joyanne.pursaga(a)freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga