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Councillor apologizes for 'sh*t tweet' about increasing Vancouver speed limits

Some fireworks resulted in an apology for a "bad take"
Rebecca Bligh | File photo

Former NPA Vancouver councillor, now-independent Rebecca Bligh published a post on her blog yesterday clarifying her position on an issue that she and One City councillor Christine Boyle disagreed on over social media, and which seemed to ignite a mini firestorm.

Bligh had responded to Boyle's tweet about her thoughts around Vancouver needing to push the province to reduce the speed limits in the city, as Calgary has just done.

Bligh tweeted an opposing opinion, that "IMO we need to increase speeds to 60km + where it makes sense and slow down on side streets and others w/ high pedestrian traffic."

Increasing (or, that is, decreasing) speed limits in the city has been a hot button issue over the last couple of years, after Councillor Pete Fry introduced a motion that resulted in a pilot project being approved, reducing the limit to 30 km/h on select streets.

In July, City Council approved a motion to reduce school and playground zones to 30 km/h, every day, as well as push the province to "test and advance blanket reduced speed limits," which fall under the Ministry of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Act Pilot Program.

According to polling conducted by Research Co. in 2019, a majority of B.C. residents (58%) expressed a wish for their municipality to “definitely” or “probably” consider reducing speed limits on select residential streets.

As you might expect from Twitter, the responses to Bligh's suggestion that they instead be raised ranged from reasonable to awful. They went from "I just don’t see a scenario where increasing speed limits anywhere within a city would lead to a safer environment," to "This is shit," with one user strangely linking Bligh to Trumpism for what she later admitted was a "bad take."

In a post to her blog entitled "Take Two" Bligh expanded on her thoughts, apologized, and noted that, no, she did not want to talk about it on Simi Sara's show on CKNW today, or on CBC's The Early Edition with Stephen Quinn.

We have republished her post in its entirety below.


Take Two
Posted on February 2, 2021

Tweeting a perspective that is incredibly nuanced in 280 characters is always an error in judgement. I made that error.

But since my ‘shit’ tweet has garnered so much attention I figured better to expand on my thinking – especially when it comes to safety and the responsibilities of drivers when it comes to pedestrian safety.

I fully support slow streets. I fully support roadway management that aims to reduce vehicle traffic where possible and at a minimum slow traffic to reduce possible harm. 

I fully support existing speed limits on Broadway, Main St, Downtown, West 4th, Commercial Drive, the list goes on, AND also support even slower speed limits on streets where that makes sense. I have felt the risk with people speeding down my residential street when my children were young or as a pet owner. I had no intention in raising a debate about speeding up cars in 90% of the city.

My point, although poorly made, is that in Vancouver there are six lane arteries that circumvent and feed into the more dense areas of the city including UBC and the downtown core. Drivers routinely travel 70 – 80 km/hr on these streets which is extremely dangerous and puts every other person at risk.  

It could be argued the natural flow of traffic travels at 60 km/hr minimum on these stretches of roadway. It is very difficult to drive 50 km/hr – and if you do people routinely swerve and cut in and out of traffic to get around the slowest vehicle. And they can do this because there are three lanes at a minimum, bidirectionally. The obvious risk to pedestrians is unpredictable speeds of oncoming vehicles. 

My point was to consider potential danger caused where traffic speeds are too slow given the design of the roadway.

I want to be perfectly clear I have no intention in advocating for higher speed limits anywhere in the city. To all those who have shared their thoughts, I have heard you. And no, I have no interest in being on the radio tomorrow morning to further discuss.

Bad take. Tone deaf to the broader conversation. Got it.