People are starting to realize the threat of motor vehicle speed to people walking, cycling and driving in cities. Earlier this week, Pete McMartin, had an excellent article in the Sun busting the myth that speeding to keep up with the flow of traffic is safer than following the speed limit. Unfortunately, this myth is dead wrong.
Saving Lives on Hastings StreetA majority of those surveyed — 52 per cent — also felt that all drivers should keep up with the flow of traffic regardless of the speed limit. If everyone was driving at 120 km/h, the feeling was, then it was safer that everyone travel at 120 km/h.But according to a study done by the U.S.-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it is speeding, not speed differences, that causes “significantly” more accidents. Nearly half of all accidents resulting in death, the IIHS found, were single-vehicle impacts where the comparative speeds of the vehicles involved played no role or a minor role.In other words, most of the accepted wisdom about speeding was hooey.
In response to a lot of people being killed while walking across Hastings Street, City of Vancouver staff are recommending, in a report going before council at the Transportation and Traffic meeting on July 26, that the speed limit on Hastings Street between Abbot and Jackson Streets be reduced to 30km/h. In addition to improving the safety of pedestrians, this reduction in speed would also make Hastings Street safer and more comfortable to cycle on.
Surprisingly, the Vancouver Police Department has come out against this recommendation. In the comments by VPD spokesperson regarding this, they seem to be confusing speeding with speed. With overwhelming evidence that speeds over 30km/h are deadly to pedestrians and cyclists, it is clear that if traffic was travelling slower, lives would be saved. Even if speeding is not the cause of the collision, it is the speed that causes the fatal injuries. This position is even more puzzling since, in Canada, traffic collisions are the second leading cause of death for on duty officers.
Inevitable Mistakes Should not Result in Death
The reality is that no one is perfect. Both people in cars, on foot and on bicycles will make mistakes. When the inevitable mistakes are made, it is critical that motor vehicles are not going over 30km/h so the mistakes will not result in people dying.
As Vancouver is seen as a leader in BC, their support of safe speeds will encourage other communities to do the same. For example, Burnaby is already following Vancouver's lead in signing bicycle routes.
Vancouver has been a leader in protecting people from the deadly effects of secondhand smoke. Lets encourage them to be a leader in protecting people from deadly secondhand speed.
Email Mayor and Council
As usual, a very vocal minority will likely flood the airwaves and comment sections with angry responses to this critical safety initiative, it is important that you email Mayor Robertson and Council urging them to make safety the priority. Including accounts of the impact crashes have had on you and your family and friends can be very persuasive.
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It would also be a good idea to cc Chief Constable Jimmy Chu, firstname.lastname@example.org