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- Slower, safer roads coming to Langford
Slower, safer roads coming to Langford
Langford City Council approves traffic calming policy
Traffic slowing raised speed bump. Photo: Sidney Coles
Langford became the most recent city in the region to make its own move in the direction of prioritizing public safety on roads when council unanimously moved to adopt its new Traffic Calming Policy.
Most people are good and careful drivers. Most cyclists and pedestrians follow safety rules and pay attention to their surroundings. Yet despite all of our collective good intentions, accidents still happen. Motor vehicle and bicycle-related collisions can potentially result in injuries or even deaths that have significant human and financial costs, including hospitalizations, ER visits, and caregiving costs, not to mention the psychological injury that can result for both drivers and vulnerable road users and their families when an unexpected and traumatic accident happens.
Trying to reduce the chances that they do happen is a priority for many municipalities on the Island. Safe speed management is one important way to reduce the chances of collisions with cyclists, other motorists and pedestrians, and many municipalities like Saanich and Victoria have already made concrete moves to reduce speeds, update signal infrastructure and to improve intersections along their roadways that align with various provincial programs and strategies, including the BC Road Safety Strategy 2025, the Safe System and the Vision Zero program.
Vision Zero is a transportation safety approach that was first implemented in Sweden and the Netherlands. It has since gone worldwide. The approach aims to eliminate deaths and injuries on roads by implementing evidence-based measures to protect vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. Through its roadway funding stream, the Vision Zero program in BC provides funding of up to $20K and support to organizations and municipalities to generate safer and more accessible safety enhancing projects for all users.
“We have various ways of having traffic calming take place right now in Langford,” said Coun. Lilian Szpak “and we have heard for years how people want to see a little bit more.” The new policy will help council provide constituents with some additional options in a proactive way.
With an aim “to determine how and when staff can implement traffic calming measures that address residents’ concerns regarding speeding and cut-through traffic on roads owned by the city,” the policy “sets out the process and criteria for staff to verify concerns, rank and evaluate the corridors, implement and monitor traffic calming measures using a cost-effective, evidence-based approach.”
Coun. Mary Wagner clarified the existing traffic complaint process. “When staff receive notification of a perceived speeding or increased traffic volumes, concerns from multiple residents, so two or more on a specific corridor, staff first need to verify those concerns by collecting the necessary data to determine if traffic coming in is warranted.” Data collection can take a number of weeks.
Drafted in accordance with the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC)’s Guide to Traffic Calming, Langford’s policy is similar to others already in place in other BC municipalities. Langford’s policy package also includes a Traffic Calmer primer with a visual glossary of potential traffic calming mechanisms and infrastructure that will help council be able to communicate more effectively with the public during public consultations or question periods.
Coun. Kimberly Guiry said “it’s great to have that visual (glossary) so residents can see what some of these measures are.” “They will be helpful,” she said, “for when staff are talking with residents about when situations like this arise and you have that visual and mutual understanding leading to less conflict over what the expectations are.” The glossary includes images of speed cushions, raised crosswalks and traffic-slowing chicanes.
When queried by Coun. Mark Morely about the budget for implementing the new policy, a representative from the engineering department at the meeting assured him and council “that the engineering department probably does have something in the budget that we will bring forward and will be part of the operational budget process this year.” Any costs related to the new traffic policy, she said, “will go through the budget process.”