Lower speed limit signs won't work - city staff

Speed limit 30 sign - iStock-Akchamczuk

Councillors on the city's Transportation Committee have approved a new policy that will allow more streets in Ottawa to have 30 kilometer-an-hour speed limits.

But it will have to go beyond just posting new speed limit signs.

Phil Landry, the city's director of Traffic Services, maintained that simply lowering the speed limits without looking at the physical configuration of the road will have minimal impact on driver behaviour.

"You can put up a sign that says 30 kilometers an hour, but no one is going to actually drive at that speed," Landry told the committee.

The way to make traffic slow down is to make drivers uncomfortable at speeds over the limit.

Krista Tanaka, from the city's road safety branch, said there are several methods they can use to change the visual cues drivers use to determine their speed.

"Narrower roadways, the presence of parked vehicles, frequent driveways, people walking or riding their bikes along the side of road -- all promote lower operating speeds," Tanaka told the committee Wednesday.

Steps could involve flex-stakes or other obstacles to narrow the entrances to street, or even allowing on-street parking on roads where it's now forbidden.

But vastly increasing the police presence or modifying roads are simply too expensive.

Any permanent changes to existing streets would have to wait until a scheduled major upgrade.