With the introduction and approval of a motion by city councillor Pete Fry to introduce a 30 km/h speed limit pilot project to Vancouver’s side streets and residential areas, many might believe this applies only to motorized vehicles.
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However, thanks to an amendment on the motion put forward by councillor Melissa De Genova, the new, slower speed limit will apply to all vehicles – and yes, this includes bicycles.
De Genova asked for the amendment to Fry’s motion during council discussion on the motion this week, recalling her own near-miss with a fast-moving cyclist.
“I myself was out with my daughter on a way to a playground near our home and a cyclist who was going very, very fast, blew through a stop sign where we were crossing and used some very choice language towards me and my daughter while we were crossing the street,” she said. “I think that it’s important that instead of pitting vehicles against each other, we’re talking about all vehicles here… all types of vehicles here are capable of going over 30km/h.”
Citing another situation in which a woman who was five months pregnant was “clipped by a cyclist in Kitsilano,” De Genova said she believes including the term “all vehicles” is important.
Councillor Michael Wiebe expressed some opposition to the amendment, noting that he was “troubled” by the term “all vehicles.”
Citing the Motor Vehicle Act, Wiebe said the word vehicles “does not include devices designed to be moved by human power… so in speaking to the amendment, we talked about the component of bicycles being ‘all vehicles,’ but then looking at the Motor Vehicle Act, it doesn’t.”
As such, Wiebe said it was his thought that the prior motion, “without all the other vehicles, dealt with a more larger spectrum,” and as a result he voted against the motion.
On the “all vehicles” terminology, Fry said “it’s a real issue,” and that he would be “fully supportive of exploring how we can deal with this.”
Saying it could be part of a larger conversation, Fry brought up the fact that cyclists don’t have tools such as speedometers, and as a result, it’s fairly hard to know exactly how fast someone is travelling on a bike.
After much discussion, Fry’s motion – with the amendment – was approved.
Word that @CityofVancouver Staff are excited about our safer streets motion passed unanimously at council today. They’ve brought out last year’s Halloween costumes!
Next stop #UBCM #30kph #VisionZero #RoadSafety @UNGRSW pic.twitter.com/kwvL7wKZVV
— Pete Fry (@PtFry) May 14, 2019
Alongside the motion are a handful of studies and reports, published between 2016 and 2018, all of which call for lower speed limits in urban areas.
Part of the motion would see council direct city staff to “identify a local street, area, or areas within the city to pilot a 30 kilometre per hour speed limit demonstration project and report back with implementation strategy, timing and budget as well as proposed road design changes by Q3 2019.”
Fry argues that the only drivers that ever need to travel at more than 50 km/h on residential streets are emergency responders and at the end of the day, active transportation and livability should trump all else.
He also notes that an average of 56 pedestrians are killed each year due to car crashes and thousands more are injured.
Upon the passing of the motion, the plan is to have the Union of BC Municipalities lobby the provincial government to amend the Motor Vehicle Act and reduce the speed limits on local streets across the province to 30 km/h.