Montreal drivers are going to have to hit the brakes as Mayor Denis Coderre announced plans to reduce speed limits on many of the city’s streets.

The new limits will be:

  • 30 km-per-hour on residential streets, in school zones, in front of playgrounds and on commercial streets with one lane in each direction.
  • 30 km-per-hour in Old Montreal, with some roads having a limit of 20 km-per-hour.
  • 40 km-per-hour in industrial areas and on the main arteries of the city centre.
  • 50 km-per-hour on the main arteries of sectors outside the city centre

The changes will take effect by late 2018 or early 2019.

Coderre said lowering the speed limit is just one part of an urban planning initiative, dubbed Vision Zero, aimed at making the city safer for pedestrians.

The Vision Zero plan also included expanding the city’s photo radar installations, which was done in fall 2016, installing more traffic lights and reconfiguring problematic or dangerous intersections.

“We have to protect the most vulnerable,” he said. “We have more and more density. This is the number one city in North America for cyclists. You have more and more pedestrians. One accident is one too many so we need to make sure instead of reacting, we’re in prevention mode.”

Velo Quebec spokesperson Jean-Francois Pronovost said lower speed limits will help make Montreal a safer place for cycling enthusiasts. 

"It's music to our ears," he said. "We asked for this for years. For us, the comfort and safety of cyclists is of course infrastructure, but also a question of speed."

Projet Montreal city councillor Marianne Giguere, who is vice-chair of the city hall commission on transport, said her party has pushed for lower speed limits for years, and some boroughs, such as the Plateau, have adopted them. While she praised the plan, she took a shot at the mayor, saying Montrealers need to see if he'll follow through. 

"It's funny to see Denis Coderre to say it's not a dogmatic position he's adopting today when we know he's attacked us on that dogmatic position before," she said. "It's good news. We're going to be very attentive, we're not going to let him go on this. We know Denis Coderre is good when it's time to talk but when it's time to act, it's hard to see if the shoes will follow the mouth."

Giguere added that while lower speed lmits are a right step, the mayor has not done enough to reduce the amount of cars on the road, which she said would make the city safer and more environmentally friendly. 

The mayor said he doesn’t expect any interference from the provincial government, citing the recently passed Bill 122, which gives Quebec cities greater autonomy in their decision making.

A budget for new speed limit signs has been set at $2 million.