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Will new speed limits of 30 km/h tackle Newmarket speeding woes?

Residents had mixed reactions to the town's plan to pilot a drop in speed limits on Lorne, but many doubt it will actually get drivers to slow down
Newmarket is preparing to reduce the speed limit on Lorne Avenue from 40 km/h to 30.

Newmarket resident Marlon Phillip said speeding is pretty bad near his home near Lorne Avenue.

Drivers will get up a hill on the road and come barrelling down, even with Stuart Scott Public School on the street, he said. 

However, he does not have a lot of confidence that dropping the speed limit from 40 to 30 km/h will have the desired impact.

“I don’t think it’s going to make any significant difference,” Phillip said. “Unless there’s enforcement behind it, it doesn’t actually change people’s driving habits.”

Area residents expressed mixed reactions to NewmarketToday in the wake of council's tentative approval May 30 of a speed limit reduction on Lorne between Davis Drive and Eagle Street, as part of a “traffic calming demonstration project.”

With the section of road under construction, the town is planning to pilot several measures to address speeding, including bike lanes, signage and textured intersections. 

A Highway Traffic Act amendment now allows the town to implement 30 km/h speeds on more roads.  

“Lorne Avenue will become the test case to help staff develop and propose to council a policy that will determine the future use of the 30 km/h speed limit zones within the town,” manager of transportation services Mark Kryzanowski said in a staff report. 

But some residents are expressing uncertainty about the idea. 

It is “a bit extreme,” Bill Harpur told NewmarketToday.

“Forty (km/h) is reasonable. The trouble is, any speed limit you put, people still rebel it,” he said, adding 30 km/h would make more sense on side streets and not a road as busy as Lorne. 

Resident Jeff Plastow said he is neutral on the idea, but added drivers will drive reasonably or go way over the speed limit regardless. 

“I understand the purpose of it, but I think it just adds more frustration. People don’t want to drive slow,” he said, adding he would like to see speed bumps or chicanes as traffic calming measures.

But others are more positive about the idea. Resident Lena Stefanowich said the road gets used as a “freeway,” with people cutting through to avoid parts of Davis or to get across town.

“The speed is crazy,” she said. “I’m not sure if lowering the speed limit is the answer. I honestly think it may slow them down, but not always. There needs to be other means involved.”

Bill Quirk said he supports the reduction in the speed limit, considering there's a school on the street. 

“Hopefully, it will make a difference,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll reduce speed, and we’ll get less speeding on the street.” 

Town staff acknowledged the importance of other measures to address the issue. Speeding has been a focal point for this council term, with several neighbourhoods raising concerns about high speeds.

“The lowering of speed limits helps somewhat in overall speed reduction. But without other traffic calming measures that include police speed enforcement, and because municipal streets were designed to accommodate higher speeds, many drivers will continue to drive at a speed that is comfortable to them instead of abiding by the posted speed limit,” Kryzanowski said.

Phillip said he would like to see speed bumps. He added that he is is unsure if coming bike lanes will make a difference.

“They need to do something,” he said. “They can’t just say they need to put bike lanes, and it will slow people down. Putting little kids on the street with cars driving that fast, especially that close to a school, is just asking for trouble.”