Alerts

Learn more about neighbourhood traffic issues in Kingston by selecting one of the headings below.

Why isn't the speed limit 40 km/h on all residential streets?

The "Guidelines for Establishing Posted Speed Limitswere created to provide a framework to standardize posted speed limits within the City of Kingston.  These Guidelines outline the methods the City uses to establish appropriate posted limits in urban and rural areas as well as in school zones. 

According to the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) of Ontario, unless signage is posted, the defacto speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas and 80 km/h in rural areas.  Within Kingston, unless posted signs state otherwise, the maximum speed limit is 50 km/h on roadways south of the 401 and 80 km/h on roadways north of the 401.  Without the HTA defacto speed limit provision, municipalities would be required to provide an excessive amount of signage which would be unsightly and cost-prohibitive to install and maintain.

Although numerous requests are received to establish 40 km/h zones on residential streets, local studies have shown this to be ineffective at reducing speeds. For this reason, 40 km/h posted speed limits on residential streets within the urban area, outside of school zones, are only considered on a case-by-case basis.  In the rural area, since signs must be posted anyway if the speed limit is anything other than 80 km/h, there may be circumstances where 40 km/h is deemed appropriate in densely populated residential areas.  

In order to slow vehicles down in residential areas, the City has instead incorporated traffic calming measures, such as speed humps, curb extensions, raised crosswalks, mini-roundabouts and driver feedback signs.

Why doesn't the City use photo radar?

The operation of photo radar is currently not permitted in Ontario. The City is however part of a group of municipalities that is working with the Ontario Traffic Council to prepare a business case for photo radar as a way to slow vehicles down on City streets.   A recommendation will eventually be presented to the Ministry of Transportation Ontario for its consideration, but the timelines for the completion of this work are currently unknown.

Why doesn't the City just install stop signs to slow cars down?

The City uses Council approved guidelines to determine where all-way stop control should be installed. The Guidelines consider vehicle and pedestrian volumes, vehicle split (percent of vehicles on the major street versus the minor street) and collision history.  Requests for all-way stop control can be forwarded to the Traffic Division and a detailed assessment will be completed.

The City does not support the installation of stop signs as a means to calm traffic for the following reasons: 

  • When there is little traffic on the side street, most motorists tend to do a "rolling stop" and some don't even stop at all
  • Additional safety concerns for pedestrians could be created since motorists may be so used to rolling through the stop sign that they don't stop for pedestrians
  • May teach motorists to disrespect traffic control
  • Regular police enforcement is required
  • Vehicle speeds at mid-block locations may increase
  • Increases vehicle emissions

To slow vehicles down in residential areas, the City has been using traffic calming measures, such as speed humps, curb extensions, raised crosswalks, mini-roundabouts and driver feedback signs.

How do I get traffic calming on my street?

The City developed a Traffic Calming Policy to address concerns about speeding and shortcutting on residential streets.  Several different types of measures such as speed humps, raised crosswalks, curb extensions, mini-roundabouts and driver feedback speed signs have been used to calm traffic on residential streets.

To decide where traffic calming should be installed, the City maintains a ranked list of streets that have been scored and assessed in detail using factors such as vehicle operating speeds, traffic volumes (including pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles), collision history and surrounding land use.

Stakeholder input regarding traffic issues is collected by the Engineering Department throughout the year. Councillors are typically asked once per year to forward the names of two streets in each of their Districts that are to be assessed for traffic calming measures.  Engineering staff then develop plans for a few of the top-ranked streets every year or two.  Residents who have property that fronts or flanks the street being considered are notified of the proposed measures directly and all stakeholders are invited to participate in the process.  Where support for the proposed measures is generally favourable, traffic calming measures will be installed.

Where does the City install "Children Playing" signs and can I get one installed on my street?

"Children Playing" signs are officially known as a "Playground Ahead" signs.  These signs are installed to provide advance warning of a playground ahead where there could be children on or near the road. In the past, the City has also installed these signs on a limited number of residential streets to warn that children could be playing in the area.   Since children could be present on most City streets, and in order to improve driver respect for these signs and to increase their effectiveness, the City now only installs these signs in advance of playgrounds.

How do I get a Community Safety Zone on my street?

The City has determined that posting a street as a "Community Safety Zone" has not been effective at reducing vehicle speeds. Extensive research clearly shows that signage alone is not an effective traffic calming measure.  Without constant and aggressive enforcement by police, motorists continue to drive at the speed that they are comfortable with, despite the "Community Safety Zone Signage".   For this reason, the City no longer supports the installation of Community Safety Zones.  To address concerns about speeding and shortcutting on residential streets, the City has a Council approved Traffic Calming Policy.

Does the City post reduced speed limits in school zones?

The "Guidelines for Establishing Posted Speed Limits", endorsed by Council in 2011, were created to provide a framework to standardize posted speed limits within the City of Kingston. These Guidelines outline how to establish appropriate posted limits in urban and rural areas as well as in school zones.   The City began reducing speed limits in school zones in 2012 and by the end of 2013, most school zones in the City will be posted with 40 km/h signs.

To reduce motorist confusion and simplify enforcement, the 40 km/h speed limit is in effect at all times as opposed to during school hours only.