Review all speed limits, minister
As expected, my column of last Saturday — in which I called on newly appointed Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca to bring back photo radar in return for raising the speed limit on the 400-series highways to 120 km/h — got mixed reactions.
Some people thought the idea was brilliant. Others were aghast; one fellow went so far as to call me the “enemy of all drivers.” Another called me a “traitor.”
Gee, all I was trying to do was get the limit increased to something sensible.
I don’t expect Mr. Del Duca to be able to do anything anyway. I mean, all he can really do is make a case to the premier’s office, because that’s where all the decisions are made. But Kathleen Wynne has an already extremely busy legislative agenda and I doubt if the speed limit question is even on her radar (if you’ll pardon the pun).
I wrote the column to try to stimulate a debate that has stalled somewhat here in Ontario and I will revisit the topic from time-to-time, as — I’m sure — will others. Because now is a critical time: in the weeks and years ahead, all parties — but particularly the opposition parties —will be discussing policies and devising campaign strategies for the next election campaign and anybody who wants the speed limit increased had better try to ensure it becomes part of a party’s platform.
Otherwise, it will stay 100 km/h forever. As Peter Cheney wrote in the Globe and Mail in recent weeks, speeding tickets are a growth industry in Ontario; more than 750,000 drivers are convicted of speeding each year, generating millions of dollars in fines.
Of course, there should be a review of all highway speed limits in Ontario. They are (again, pardon the pun) all over the map.
For instance, when you drive north of Barrie on Hwy 400, the highway splits. Hwy 400 continues toward Parry Sound, Hwy 11 goes toward Orillia.
If you’re going to Parry Sound, the limit is 100. If you go toward Orillia, it’s 90.
I drove out to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last weekend and, as I have for years, I went off the 401 at the Liberty St. exit at Bowmanville and drove north to the track.
In Bowmanville, the Liberty St. speed limit is 50. Then, as you leave the municipality, it increases to 80 km/h. You get to Taunton Rd. and on the other side it drops to 70. You go through the village of Tyrone where it’s 50. Then it goes up to 60, then 70, then 60 again. Every time there’s a turn in the road, it seems, there’s a new limit.
Concession Rd. 7 goes east from Tyrone. It’s 50 km/h for kilometers. Nothing but wide-open spaces, cows and cornfields out there but 50 it is. And it’s no accident: the 50 km/h signs are posted frequently.
There are reasons, of course. The province is made up of municipalities, counties and regions. All have councils and all have responsibility for roads within their jurisdictions. These make up the “network” of highways and byways in the province. So that explains, in part, the hodge podge of speed limits.
Although completely arbitrary, I’m not so sure that this is done with any Georgia-style revenue generation in mind. I think you get a couple of men (or women) whose job is to determine the limit, and they go out and look around and one says, “You know, I think 60’s plenty fast enough, don’t you?” And the other guy will say, “Sure,” And that’s how they do it.
The minister should look into that, too.
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