Lukes eyes 30 km/h speed limit for residential streets

DO you like driving 30 km/h in school zones? How about on all residential streets?

Coun. Janice Lukes, the public works chairwoman, wants Winnipeg to consider reducing all residential street speed limits to 30 km/h.

The lower limit would not apply to regional streets, which are major routes such as Main Street or Portage Avenue.

Lukes wants a pilot project in Fort Richmond, which is in her St. Norbert ward, but approval would have to come from the province first.

"That solves all of our problems with cycling, walking, to have a limited speeding amount for vehicles," she said.

One idea she has is to piggyback off the work of former Daniel McIntyre councillor Harvey Smith, who attempted to lower residential street speed limits to 40 km/h from 50 km/h in 2012. The motion was defeated by the public works committee in 2013 after an administrative report recommended against it.

Earlier this week, a community committee in Toronto voted in favour of reducing the speed limits in some residential areas to 30 km/h.

A report by Toronto's city staff said it could increase safety for residents and increase the number of residents using active transportation, but would be costly and might not work with every local road.

Lukes said she would be open to investigating reducing the speed limit on weekends or at certain times of the day.

"It is absolutely something in my tenure I will be looking at," she said. "I know (Fort Richmond) has five or six schools in an area, parks, so there is nothing wrong with piloting a project to see what happens."


-- Kristin Annable

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 24, 2015 0

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Crossing guard fed up with reckless drivers

Posting licence plate numbers on Facebook

A Winnipeg crossing guard hopes to shame bad drivers into better behaviour by posting their licence plate numbers on social media.

Cecile Desjarlais has worked at a busy intersection in the West End since last fall, helping adults and children from a nearby school cross the street.

Desjarlais says she's blown away by the number of close calls she's encountered with drivers, seeing kids almost hit by cars.

On Monday, she said she had three narrow misses with vehicles.

"I was in my intersection in the middle of the road with my vest on and my flag out, trying to get some kids across," Desjarlais said Tuesday. "Out come two vehicles, one after the other, and they passed on the inside of me, thankfully, so I was able to protect the kids."

Thirty seconds later, another car nearly hit her and pedestrians again, she said.

"There was even a closer call two weeks before where a child was just stepping off the curb... and somebody cut in the outside lane and hit the flag right out of my hand," Desjarlais said.

"(Drivers) are being inattentive, they're late possibly for an appointment or work, or they just don't care."

Fed up, Desjarlais decided to create a Facebook group where she plans to list the licence plate numbers of reckless drivers she sees. She will also be reporting the numbers to Winnipeg police, she said.

Desjarlais talked to police about the issue and they said it's all right for her to post the plate numbers online. Police told her they will also be following up on all the numbers she reports.

The Facebook group, Crossing Guards Wall of Shame, had 118 members subscribed after one day. Desjarlais said she will be the only person in the group posting licence plate numbers, so she can ensure they are authentic.

One group member who hopes to help is Maurice Grégoire, the president of Teknisult Enterprises Ltd., which manufactures video cameras for school buses.

Grégoire said he wants to help Desjarlais by giving her a wearable hat-camera that will shoot video and audio. That way, she won't have to take her eyes off the children to write down licence plate numbers in a notebook, he said.

"It's all about advocacy for student safety," he said. "Whatever resources I have that she can use, go for it."

Desjarlais hopes the Facebook group will raise awareness among drivers and, consequentially, make for safer commutes to school.

"The drivers need to be aware that the crossing guards are out there. We're not out there just to cause havoc with traffic or anything. We're just trying to get people across the street safely," Desjarlais said.

"How would they feel if they were running late or on the way to work and they were to hit me or a child? They're not going to get to their destination any quicker if that was to happen."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 24, 2015 0