Bracebridge considering a 40km per hour speed limit
Bracebridge General Committee agreed to consider a new 40km/h speed limit for the Town’s local and collector roads, in the November 7, 2023, meeting.
The recommendation is a part of the new 20-year Transportation Master Plan that will be used as a guide for staff and decision makers to respond to the Town’s growth, public concerns, and safety issues with speeding.
Director of Public Works, Geoff Carleton, advised that staff is working with the District of Muskoka with several projects, including this one, in the Master Plan. He said, “We’re bringing a seamless approach to the full transportation network.”
Other goals include incorporating and revising cycling, crossing, and accessibility networks throughout the Town to improve connectivity.
Senior Transportation Planner of ARCADIS Professional Services, Zach Henderson, advised that the Master Plan will be implemented in three phases, including “needs and opportunities, responding to alternative solutions, and implementation and action plan.”
Upon consulting with the public, the company was met with “great feedback from the community,” said Henderson. The biggest concern included road safety and speeding.
He added, “There is a growing trend in transportation planning regarding safety. Lowering speeds is the best way to provide safe restraints… Collision impacts are less traumatic significantly at that speed.”
Mayor, Rick Maloney, concurred that reducing the driver speed by 10 km – from 50km to 40km – can have a significant impact on pedestrian survival rates, by approximately 35 percent.
Henderson added that urban areas are especially vulnerable because of schools, intersections, and other safety zones.
Carlton indicated that his Public Works department has received numerous calls from people throughout Muskoka about concerns about road safety. He said, “We thought it best to make it uniform across the municipality.”
He added that according to data collected, “85 percent of people conform to the speed limit,” so majority of people are likely to respect the changes.
Councillor, Barb McMurray, expressed support for the recommendations, indicating that in her Township of Oakley there aren’t any sidewalks and pedestrians are having to jump out of the way “in ditches” at times from speeding vehicles out of concern for their safety.
Councillor, Archie Buie, indicated that he didn’t believe reducing speed limits works. “People will still driver higher.” He suggested installing stop signs or traffic calming devices instead.
Carlton advised that installing stop signs can be more hazardous “because of driver expectation.” He said, “Changing conditions and expectations is a smoother transition for changes because you already set expectations.”
Regarding further discussion about traffic calming devices, such as speed bumps, Maloney said, “Reducing speed gives the opportunity for safety devices later.”
Councillor, Don Smith, indicated that this reduction will create other issues, such as a need for increased enforcement. He said they recently considered electronic options; however, it was too costly.
Carlton emphasized that majority of drivers adhere to the current 50km/h speed limit in accordance with the Traffic Act, and the Town provides an enforcement report to the OPP for the 15 percent that don’t so they can enforce those areas efficiently, rather than areas where it’s not needed.
The Committee will review the recommendation and make a decision in the upcoming December meeting.