Nearly 4,000 photo-radar tickets were issued on the rebuilt Scona Road in September and October of 2013. Speeds along the hilly stretch between the Low Level Bridge and Saskatchewan Drive are limited to 50 km/h. Yet the average recorded speed is a bit over 60 km/h. The question, then, is this: Who is in the wrong — lead-footed drivers, or the City for establishing an unreasonable speed limit?
City council’s debated those questions recently and will likely continue to debate them for as long as drivers exceed the speed limit. It was Scona Road this month, but it will be another stretch of road the next time. What these issues represent is a clash of philosophies on everything from public safety and driver competence to public enforcement and individual freedom. To oversimplify: Many drivers feel strict enforcement, especially by photo radar, is unfair; and others believe any excessive speeding brings risk to the broad community.
The Scona Road debate was challenging. While I have no particular sympathy for speeders, I do worry about establishing unfair or unreasonable bylaws. Scona Road is clearly overbuilt, though the neighbouring community warned the City that it was essentially engineering a freeway. Simply put, Scona Road doesn’t ‘feel’ like it’s only 50 km/h. So why not just make it 60 km/h? For one thing, that would violate the commitment made to the Strathcona Community to keep speeds down to 50 km/h along 99th Street, south of Scona Road, between Saskatchewan Drive and Whyte Avenue.
But there are risks, too, with maintaining Scona Road as a 50 km/h zone. Ticketing thousands of Edmontonians each year for speeding on a road that ‘feels’ like a freeway will only serve to undermine confidence in the City and its bylaws.
Council decisions, it seems, are never simple. There are always at least two legitimate sides to the argument. In this case, I default to my strong belief in personal responsibility. I recently received a photo radar ticket. I grumbled. Then I paid it. It was a healthy reminder to relax and slow down.