The town of Banff will be moving at a slower pace — now that council has voted to drop the speed limit to 30 km/h throughout the community.
Banff town council received a lot of feedback on both sides of the debate but in the end voted unanimously in favour of the reduction.
Mayor Corrie DiManno says it’s about making the streets safer for children and visitors who may be distracted and not necessarily paying attention to traffic.
“Slower is safer and in a community with four square kilometres, I don’t understand the need for speed,” said DiManno during the Monday council meeting.
The debate goes back several years and a similar reduction was considered by the previous council.
The speed limit along Banff Avenue is already at 30 km/h while most other residential streets have a limit of 40 km/h.
The manager of recreation services cited some of the benefits seen in other jurisdictions, including injury prevention and an uptick in the number of people who engage in a more active lifestyle, such as cycling, because they feel safer.
“Users that might not typically feel comfortable riding a bicycle or a non-motorized vehicle feel a higher sense of safety and security,” Amanda Arbuckle said, adding it could encourage people to make a healthy shift.
Many benefits expected
Communities that reduced their limits to 30 km/h also saw a reduction in emissions and congestion, she said.
DiManno says it’s important to encourage all modes of active transportation, whether it’s a skateboard, scooter, bicycle, rollerblades, wheelchair, or para bikes.
“For me it’s about sharing our largest public space that we have, which is our road network, with as many users as possible — transit, cyclists, pedestrians. We need to create the environment to make it safe and easy for people to make that mode shift,” said DiManno.
Coun. Hugh Pettigrew put forward a motion to keep two busier and steeper streets at 40 km/hour — Mountain Avenue and Tunnel Mountain Road — but it was voted down.
“In the end, council’s will was to move forward with 30 and now that that decision has been made I’m willing to move forward with it, it’s done,” Pettigrew said.
Arbuckle says Banff’s new speed limit should take effect in about a month because it will take that long for signage and public education.