City of Vancouver to consider lowering speed limit to 30 km/h for all local residential streets

Further speed reductions could be coming to all local/minor streets in residential areas within the City of Vancouver following a unanimous decision by City Council on Wednesday.

A member motion by Green Party city councillor Pete Fry calls for a reduction of speed limits on all residential streets without a centre line to 30 km/h, which could be implemented by introducing a new municipal bylaw.

Currently, the expected speed limit, unless stated otherwise by posted signage, is 50 km/h for such local/minor streets.

But Fry says that the provincial government has indicated that a posted lower speed limit sign would not necessarily be required on every block on every street and that such blanket changes have already been in effect in jurisdictions such as Victoria, Seattle, and Portland.

He particularly noted the opportunity of creating lower speed limits to enhance the growing use of electric micro-mobility devices such as e-bikes and e-scooters.

Later this spring or summer, the City is also expected to announce its selected private operator to design, launch, and operate a new public e-scooter share program, similar to the Mobi bike share system that has been in place for much of the past decade. Two years ago, Mobi also made a major expansion by introducing a major fleet of e-bikes to its growing network.

“We are a small compact city, and we are seeing this explosion in e-device micro-mobility that could radically transform… Now that Mobi has electric bikes, I get to City Hall faster from my place than I could ever get in a car. It’s impossible to get to in a vehicle at the same speed as an electric bike as I can zip through traffic, and it’s more efficient,” said Fry during the public meeting.

“When we look at opportunities where we can make it safer and more attractive to use active transportation, I think that’s a win. That’s a win for the environment, a win for the city, a win for affordability, and a win for public safety.”

The approved motion directs City staff to report back on recommendations for such a speed limit and explore the possibility of creating more physical barriers and traffic calming measures, such as barriers, bollards, chicanes, roundabouts, and speed bumps. An amendment was made to specify that such measures must not impact the access of emergency vehicles and other users with accessibility needs that require a vehicle, such as seniors.

ABC city councillor Brian Montague, a former Vancouver Police officer, including under the Collision Investigation Unit, supported the motion but suggested that the 30 km/h speed limit “is going to be very difficult to force compliance” and will “rely on self-compliance from people.”

It was noted by the City Manager during the meeting that City staff will be reporting back on their findings of the ongoing pilot project of a 30 km/h speed limit on local/minor residential streets in select neighbourhoods since 2021. Fry also previously initiated this pilot project through an approved member motion.

Last year, the City also began a pilot project of lowering the speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h or 30 km/h, depending on location, on arterials at nine school zones, and City Council approved a pilot project of a 40 km/h speed limit on Cornwall Avenue in Kitsilano.