Road safety improvements in town are sometimes opposed by council members. Recently, a council member expressed concern about the narrowing of Extension Road.
The councillor noted that: “[narrow roads] don’t reduce accidents, they actually increase it … If you look at where most of the fatals were, they’re where the road is narrower.” This is contrary to BC’s own road safety toolkit, among almost every other publication on road safety published in the last ten years. “Narrower lanes influence drivers’ perception of their margin of error, causing them to slow down.” Moreover, ” Reducing speeds, meanwhile, increases the objective margin of error, while also making crashes less severe when they do occur.” 1 The wider the lane, the faster the driver feels they can comfortably drive. The Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals notes that, “there is a direct correlation between vehicle speed and the likelihood of crash occurrence, seriousness of injury and the odds of a fatality.” 2
“[W]hen the accident involves a pedestrian or cyclist, the lower the motor vehicle speed, the more likely that pedestrian or cyclist will survive the crash.” 3
Furthermore, Nanaimo’s own transportation and mobility page even agrees. Notably, “Controlling driver speed is important; slower vehicles generally mean less chance of an accident, and a smaller chance of injury or death when there is an accident.” 3 Narrow streets exist all around the world, especially outside of car-dominated North America. We’ve over-built our roads in the late 20th century and are grappling with the consequences today.