Okotoks residents will breathe a little easier in 2016 with new and reduced speed limits in their neighbourhoods.
Town councilors approved a motion to lower the speed limits in most residential streets in Okotoks to 40 km/hr. That includes some of Okotoks main thoroughfares, such as Elizabeth, McRae and North Railway Streets.
Streets in Okotoks communities with a posted 30 km/hr restriction and back alleys that have a default speed limit of 15 km/hr will remain as posted with no further reductions.
Some of Okotoks busier streets, such as Northridge, Southridge, Milligan, 32 St and Big Rock Trail will retain the 50 km/hr speed limits.
When will it take effect?
The new 40 km/hr residential speed limit was voted upon and is effective immediately; however enforcement of the new limits will not begin until after Jan. 1. Signs still have to be changed and Okotoks residents informed of the new limits.
Town maintenance crews will install the new speed limit signage in each intersection. This is the point where drivers will first enter the new 40 km/hr zone. In addition, new signs indicating that the speed limit on all roads is 40 km/hr unless otherwise posted will be erected at all major roadways leading into the town.
How much will it cost?
The price tag for the new signage is estimated to be $15,000. It will take more than 60 days to install them throughout the town.
The aim of speed limit reduction in Okotoks is to make the roads and neighbourhoods a safer place for pedestrians and other drivers. It’s about keeping traffic moving and keeping a good traffic flow while being mindful of pedestrians and increasing their survivability rate.
Why are they doing it?
The World Health Organization (WHO) keeps statistics on pedestrian fatalities. If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle going 30 km/hr, they have a 95% per cent change of surviving the collision. If a vehicle is going 60 km/hr and strikes a pedestrian, it’s the exact opposite. There’s a 90% of being killed in the collision. Right in the middle at 50 km/hr, a pedestrian would have a 55% chance of survival which community leaders in Okotoks agree is not acceptable.
With winter’s icy road conditions, these survivability statistics are greatly reduced.
In addition to speeding, Okotoks drivers have a bad habit of tailgating, or following too close to a car in front which translates to a high incidence of rear end collisions. Unsafe lane changes are also a problem as well as unsafe turns to the left. This is of particular concern on Northridge Drive /Highway 2A where these types of road infractions are more common than speeding infractions.
Slower speeds also increase reaction time for drivers attempting to avoid a collision at all times of the year. It is also preferable in Okotoks neighbourhoods with a large population of small children.
At present, most communities in the south communities in Okotoks have a 40 km/hr speed limit; however, the majority of communities in the north end of town have posted limits of 50 km/hr. This discrepancy is confusing for drivers who travel across town.