By Tristan Marks
West Lincoln Council has voted to keep Port Davidson Road and Young Street at their current 80 km/h speed limit Monday night, as recommended by staff after reviewing traffic speed on those two streets.
Council also voted to implement a Speed Limit Review Policy prepared by staff. The study found that the Township had no formal procedure for reviewing traffic speed in the first place.
The new review policy first directs staff to to gather data to determine the ‘operating’ speed of a road. This is defined as the speed which 85 per cent of vehicles travel at or under during relatively free-flowing traffic- regardless of the actual posted speed limit.
This speed is compared to benchmarks set by the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC).
Operating speeds are compared to specific tolerances: 50 km/h plus/minus 10 km/h for urban roads and 80 km/h plus/minus 20 km/h for rural roads.
If the operatng speeds on a reviewed section of road fall outside of these tolerances, staff then takes a look at other factors set by the Niagara Region.
These factors, which include number of stop signs, turns, pedestrian and cyclist traffic and more, are meant to generate a “risk score” to compare to the operating speed determined in the first step.
With these factors assessed, staff then can make an informed recommendation to Council about how to change a given roadway’s speed limit, if at all.
Staff applied this draft policy to reviewing Port Davidson Rd. and Young St. leading into Smithville.
Council directed them to determine the possiblity to lower the speed limit on the two roads during the summer.
The review determined that neither speed limit of 80 km/h should be changed, as the operating speed fell within the tolerance zone.
Mayor Bylsma asked if the Township would be open to any legal liability if Council decided” to set a limit lower than what the review suggested.
Consultant Jeff Suggett explained that the danger of setting an “artificially low” speed limit lies in how it would lead to “more variability of speeds”.
The roadways would become more dangerous as some drivers would follow the posted speed limits and other would continue drive at a higher operating speed.
This, Suggett explained, would open the Township up to liability.
Council voted to accept both the review’s conclusions as well as the new speed review policy.