04/09/2015 05:00 EDT | Updated 06/08/2015 05:59 EDT

New speed limit recommendations to be considered by council

City council will consider a proposal Thursday that would make it easier for residents to request lower speed limits on local streets. 

Last year council asked city staff to study the possibility of implementing a 30 km/h limit on some residential and side streets that meet the criteria to do so. The current speed limit, unless otherwise posted, is 50 km/h.

The general manager of the city's transportation department Stephen Buckley told CBC News that speed limits are again coming under scrutiny because increasingly drivers are resorting to side streets to avoid overwhelming congestion on primary thoroughfares. As a result, people living on residential streets are seeing more cars speeding past their homes.

- LISTEN | Metro Morning: Lower speed limits

"As the network becomes more and more congested, particularly on the arterials, drivers are seeking relief and going through residential areas," he said in an interview with Metro Morning Wednesday. 

Currently, the city will only consider lowering the limit on a street if there is already speed bumps on the road, as well as a petition signed by a considerable number of people living on the street. The new recommendations from Buckley's staff will do away with the requirement of speed bumps, though neighbours will still need to get signatures from at least 25 per cent of people living on any given street. 

The street must also see fewer than 8,000 cars on any given day and already have a speed limit of 50 km/h. 

But critics argue that even the revised criteria outlined in the recommendations goes too far. 

"The requirements to get the reduction are so stiff that only a few neighbourhood groups will actually be successful," said Michael Black of the pedestrian advocacy group Walk Toronto. 

Black says the real solution is to reduce the speed limit on all residential streets throughout the city.

While such a measure has been considered, Buckley said the recommendations are a step forward toward better pedestrian safety without throwing the city's traffic network into disarray. Further, only about 15 per cent of fatal incidents involving pedestrians occur on collector streets, while the vast majority happen on arterial roads, he said. 

The province is also considering amending the Highway Traffic Act to lower speeds in residential neighbourhoods and school zones. 

Poll question

On mobile? Click here to vote on our speed limit poll