The city of Calgary is currently debating whether to reduce the residential speed limit from 50 km/h to 30 km/h, in particular for streets that are not considered thoroughfares. As a result of these discussions however, the City’s traffic engineering staff seem to be washing their hands of any changes to address speeding concerns until after council make their decision one way or the other. The attitude isn’t that great either. The argument I’m always faced with when speaking about traffic safety to those in charge of it, is if there haven’t been any incidents, there isn’t a problem. What I don’t think they realize, is that incidents have likely been avoided up until now partly as a result of good luck, and mostly as a result of families not being comfortable using streets the way the residents would prefer to use them. In my experience, there may not have been many incidents, but there certainly have been a lot of close calls.
I don’t particularly feel we’re going to accomplish anything by reducing speed limits in our city, because if speeding is already an issue, lowering the speed limit won’t solve the problem. There is only one thing that can reduce speeding on our roads and that’s enforcement. But as we all know, with the exception of strategically placed (and quite obvious) photo radar camera vehicles and intersections, enforcement is practically non-existent.
The UK also have something called Community Speed Watch. Volunteers in their own community spend some time each week monitoring speeds and noting license plates. Those identified as speeding are sent a warning letter and the police will take further action if the same vehicle is identified as speeding 3 times. Community Speed Watch is only permitted for speed limits of 40 mph (64 km/h) or below. Junior Speed Watch works in a similar way but involves school children.
In France, there are hundreds of unmarked police cars equipped with radar that can measure and record another vehicle’s speed while they roam around the roads and streets. So you never know when or where you might get caught.
In Germany, they have speed cameras as well, and you do get a fine for being caught speeding. But the fine for not leaving the proper distance to the vehicle in front of you is even higher. In other words, you can get a big fine for tailgating on highways.
In Canada, I know that people in general have an attitude toward photo radar cameras that they are just a money generating device for police services. But I really do believe that speed limits in playground and school zones need to be enforced full time, and the only way I can see this being accomplished is with permanent speed cameras. I would like to see the Community Speed Watch concept tried here as well. That way, residents who perceive that speeding is a problem in their neighbourhood can monitor speed, note plate numbers and report them to police. Let the police deal with these drivers when 3 or more complaints have been registered against them.