Drivers in Gatineau will have to ease up on the gas pedal.
A new bylaw lowering the speed limit on all residential side streets from 50 km/h to 40, will come into effect in 90 days, the city announced Wednesday.
The proactive measure aims to “help improve everyone’s safety on the roads, pedestrians and cyclists included,” Gatineau Mayor Marc Bureau said in a statement.
“The risk of fatality in the case of a pedestrian hit at 60 km/h is 90% but only 25% at 40 km/h.”
Many side streets in Ottawa, such as Golflinks Dr. and Stoneway Dr., have already been dropped down to 40 km/h.
But does the posted limit make a difference?
“Certainly, I think the lion’s share of residents will respect the speed limit that is posted,” said Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Steve Desroches.
“I do have roads that are 40, that are signed, and I do still get complaints.”
Complaints about speeding is one of the top calls his office receives.
“I don’t think my ward is unique,” said Desroches.
The key to dealing with chronic speeders, Desroches said, is enforcement.
“(Speeders) disrespect it at 40, they disrespect it at 50, they disrespect it at 60,” he said.
His office reports complaints to Ottawa Police so “they can follow up, monitor, enforce,” said Desroches.
In 2008, Ottawa police handed out more than 150,000 tickets.
The majority, 24%, were for speeding.
Traffic usually tops residents’ concerns when surveyed by police every few years.
A 2012 survey is currently underway, said Const. Marc Soucy.
The unposted speed limit on residential streets is 50 km/h, said Desroches.
Residents, however, can petition the city to lower the limit to 40.
“I think it does put that decision in the hands of the residents who are directly impacted by them,” said Desroches.
They need 66% approval from residents on the entire street.
If it’s given the thumbs-up, signs bearing the new speed limit are installed within one month.
Each sign costs about $100, said Desroches.
The province mandates unsigned speed limits, something Desroches would like to see changed “so that we would save money, because we would likely, probably have the unsigned (changed) to 40,” he said.
“Because right now, if we sign it at 40, there’s a cost to the city to do that. So every time we lower the speed limit, there’s a cost.”