Default speed limit drops to 40 km/h on Aug. 6

Edmonton's new default speed limit in residential and downtown areas will take effect in one month.

Starting Aug. 6, the speed limit in those areas will drop from 50 km/h to 40 km/h.

According to the director of the city's Safe Mobility program, people who are struck by a vehicle at the lower speed are much more likely to survive the crash.

"So what we're doing is we're really increasing safety for people who are living in their neighbourhoods," Jessica Lamarre told media on Friday, speaking on a sidewalk in King Edward Park community, whose residents will be some of many across the city affected by the change.

"We're using streets for more than just vehicle travel. We're using them to gather as a community, to go to the playground, to walk to school, and so we want to make those streets more safer and really to create a space that's more livable for everyone."

"The number one neighbourhood concern on any citizen survey we've given, all the way back to the early 90s before I started… has been traffic," Insp. Keith Johnson, who leads Edmonton Police Service's traffic services branch, added. "It's speed, it's distracted driving. It's going through stop signs."

GRACE PERIOD

The city is launching a public awareness campaign to tell people about the change, and drivers will have a grace period from Aug. 6 to Sept. 1 to get used to it.

During those weeks leading up to the new school year, people caught violating the rule will receive a warning rather than ticket, unless they're caught violating traffic laws excessively.

Lamarre said the city's research suggests the large majority of Edmontonians respect speed limits, and so she doesn't expect "huge jumps" in enforcement.

Signs will also be posted at city limits to inform drivers coming into the city.

Both Lamarre and the EPS have touted the change as one supportive of the city's Vision Zero goal by 2032.

According to Johnson, EPS' major collisions unit is investigating 10 fatal crashes in 2021. It counted 12 I 2020.

Lowering the default speed limit cost the city $1 million and was funded by the Traffic Safety Automated Enforcement Reserve, not tax levy.  

A map of the changes and more information is available online.