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What happens when you reduce the city speed limit to 30km/h... or even lower?

(iStock Photo)

Local governments from Edinburgh to Rossland have made moves to drastically reduce speed limits

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Maybe you could call it the “slow roads” movement — and we’re not talking about your usual morning commute.

Local governments from Edinburgh to Rossland have made moves to cap speed limits, drastically reducing them in an effort to change behaviours behind the wheel.

Improving safety is one reason but Edinburgh, like Vancouver, is also trying to reduce the number of vehicles downtown while boosting the number of trips made by bicycle or walking.

To that end, the Scottish capital is reducing speed limits to 30km/h on 80 per cent of its roads.

In BC’s interior, the town of Rossland doesn’t quite have the same density. So, reducing potential road casualties is the main reason the community dropped its limits to 30km/h on most roads last summer, with school zones lowered to 15 or 20 km/h.

“We have a provincial highway that goes through our downtown that we don’t have any control over — that’s 50 km/h — but most of our streets are small and narrow because we are a very mountainous community,” says Mayor Kathy Moore.

“We had gotten a lot of complaints, particularly from certain areas with bad visibility, and the residents really wanted us to do something about the speed,” she tells NEWS 1130.

So, has everyone embraced the new lower limits in Rossland?

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” Moore laughs.

“But I think overall, the speed in town has dropped from where it was before. Just not all the way 30km/h. It’s like anything you do in a small community — some people think it’s a great idea and some people think it’s stupidest thing they have ever heard.”

Whether or not the lower speed limits have saved lives in Rossland is up for debate.

“The perception of safety has improved,” says the mayor. “We aren’t a community that has had a lot of accidents; it’s more people being afraid of what could happen when they are out walking with their kids. A lot of our roads don’t have sidewalks and we are a mountainous community so there is a lot of danger.”

With such a small pool of stats to pull from, Moore can’t say if there’s been a trend toward fewer accidents. “But we have had fewer people complain about speeding.”