Oak Bay to iron out ‘potpourri’ of speed limits

The district expects to adopt a 40 km/h speed zone strategy throughout the district

A pithy new slogan aptly describes incoming speeds on local streets – 40k in Oak Bay.

The district expects to adopt a 40 km/h speed zone strategy throughout the district as a results of a traffic speed study recently completed by Adept Transportation Solutions.

“I’m hugely excited about the traffic report. Finally, some coherence around the potpourri of speed limits in the community – the staff recommendation is straightforward and evidence-based,” said Coun. Tara Ney. “It’s a terrific message for residents and visitors alike: 40k in Oak Bay means, when in Oak Bay, slow down – take it easy, chill out.”

If approved – council heartily agreed while sitting as committee but would need to ratify that decision – arterial roads such as Henderson Road, Cedar Hill X Road, Foul Bay Road (north of Oak Bay Avenue) and Cadboro Bay Road would be posted at 50 km/h speed limit.

Oak Bay would also continue to use Transportation Association of Canada procedure for making recommendations on speed limits.

The director of engineering services would develop a plan to adopt the changes in a phased approach, including an implementation schedule, project budget, and outreach/public education plan.

While it “may be hard to get people to speed up to 40 in Oak Bay,” as joked Coun. Kevin Murdoch, all agreed that the continued use of the TAC leaves them free of political interference.

“It takes us out of this. We have to be very careful not to stick our fingers in. … That’s how we get from 40 to 35 to 20,” Murdoch said. “We have to be very careful if we set the speed limits in a way that is not reasonable …. people aren’t going to follow it.”

He noted the City of Victoria’s “gut feel” to lower speed limits on some major roads to 40 km/h resulted in traffic mayhem and has significant negative impact, Murdoch said. Adept Transportation pointed out some areas of the region where dropping speeds cost transit time and money.

“This has the benefit of simplicity and consistency,” agreed Mayor Nils Jensen.

Coun. Eric Zhelka agreed, “the politics have been taken out of it … it’s based on strictly as presented facts,” along with the indication  that speed and road design inform each other. Cadboro Road became the example where it seems “almost a 70 zone at times” with a wide span that tempts drivers to drive too fast.

Cadboro Bay Road’s ever-changing speed regulations and bustling pedestrian traffic adjacent to schools, the recreation centre and shopping areas made it the prime example for Coun. Michelle Kirby. She pointed to the transition from Fort to Cadboro Bay then a school zone, then 40 km/h, a steep hill and corner, another schools zone and dangerous crosswalk and back to 50 km/h.

“For that whole stretch … could we keep that at 40? Maybe because of the deer issue keep it 40 the whole stretch,” she said.

Coun. Tom Croft, pointed out Dan Horan, director of engineering services would develop a plan to adopt the changes in a phased approach.

“This is a very broad stroke presentation here and there’s a lot of work to bring it into a detailed program,” Croft said. “Those kinds of questions will come out when we see what the overall design is.”

With a long interest in lowering speeds and traffic in their area, Granite Street and area residents came out for the conversation Monday night.

“This is refreshing. We residents on Granite Street and Victoria and Hampshire and Brighton have been in front of council for a decade looking for improvements on our street,” said Diana Butler. “Our experience is that you can reduce the speed limit on Granite and it’s simply ignored.”

Council is slated to see committee recommendations Monday night, 7 p.m. in council chambers.

 

Public weighs in on speed

Nearly 100 comments were put forward by the public on sounding boards set up at the Henderson, Monterey and Oak Bay recreation centre in the fall of 2015. The district’s website featured a description of the project in the same timeframe, and that featured a survey that garnered 62 responses. Five email comments were received. More than 30 residents attended an October 2015 open house and shared project information with staff and the consultant available to discuss issues. There were a wide variety of opinions about speeds in Oak Bay. Specifically, about half would like to see the speed limits lowered and half would like to see the limits set at 50 km/h.