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 drivers down.
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 supported it.
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 Winnipeg.
“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.
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