Majority of drivers obeying Edmonton's 40 km/h limits, cyclist crashes up: annual report

Most Edmontonians respect the city's reduced residential speed limits, new numbers from the city suggest.

According to automated enforcement data from the city – released as part of its annual Vision Zero report – compliance rates held around 77 per cent through the first two months of the school year, then ticked up past 80 per cent in November and finally reached 88 per cent in December.

The limit was reduced from 50 km/h to 40 km/h in both neighbourhoods and pedestrian hot spots like Whyte Avenue and Jasper Avenue at the beginning of August, but automated enforcement didn't begin until September to give drivers time to adjust.

The recent Vision Zero report echoes what city officials said in August 2021: the speed reduction represents a major step toward safer streets.

It also said the compliance rates suggest the city did a good job in communicating the change to the public. In total, 1,058 traffic signs were put up, including at city entrances.

On Thursday at a media availability, Jessica Lamarre, director of safe mobility and traffic operations, said the city is making steps toward making streets safer.

"We know our work is not done," she said. "We must continue to prioritize safe and liveable streets for all until we eliminate crash-caused fatalities and serious injuries."

TRAFFIC NOT QUITE BACK TO PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS

Vision Zero is the City of Edmonton's goal to count zero traffic-related serious injuries and fatalities in a year by 2032.

In 2021, Edmonton counted 16 traffic-related fatalities and 259 serious injuries, representing 50-per cent and 32-per cent reductions, respectively, since Vision Zero was adopted in 2015.

"Each and everyone of those fatalities, those are human beings," Lamarre said. "Those are our neighbours and our friends."

While the numbers represent a decrease over the long term, 2021's 16 fatalities – a cyclist, two motorcyclists, five pedestrians, and eight vehicle occupants – was a small jump up from 12 in 2020.

As well, the number of crashes causing death or serious injury where impairment was found to be a factor jumped to 21 in 2021 from 13 in 2020.

"That's really important to focus on and for us to take away and learn more about," Lamarre said. "Continue to work with our partners in the Edmonton Police Service, to understand why that happened, what the drivers might be, and to make sure that trend does not continue."

But the report says 2021 traffic volumes were still lower than usual because of COVID-19 restrictions, and were better off compared to pre-pandemic years.

"As the data shows, 2020 was an outlier year in terms of vehicle volumes, travel patterns and crash numbers. That is why 2020 was not used as a benchmark, and it was more appropriate to compare 2021 crash numbers with the pre-COVID years 2018 and 2019," the report reads.

 When compared to those earlier years, 2021's total number of fatal and serious collisions is lower.

Total fatal and serious collisions where impairment was a factor numbered 21 in 2021 as well as 2018, but 15 in 2019.

CRASHES WITH CYCLISTS UP

The other notable increase was the number of crashes involving cyclists that end in fatality or serious injury: in 2015, there were 23 such crashes; in 2021, there were 27, an increase of 17 per cent.

"While vehicular traffic has seen an overall reduction since 2019, there has been an exciting increase in the number of people biking during the same period. Unfortunately, this increase was associated with a higher crash risk for cyclists. Edmontonians are choosing healthier and more active lifestyles, and the City is committed to protecting their safety regardless of their mode of transportation," the report reads.

These are the most common causes of crashes:

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