Safe Speeds Downtown

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Downtown Whitehorse - Proposed Speed Limits
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Read the Memorandum on Safety Interventions and Downtown Speed Reductions.

Project Status

December 2020 - Early 2021 Inform public regarding potential options
January 15, 2021 Project website FAQ updated 
February 15, 2021 City Administration to inform Council of preferred options and reccomendations. For information only (no decision to be made at this time)
Spring 2021 City Administration to bring motion forward to Council through a budget and bylaw amendment to initiate implementation. Implementation subject to Council approval.

Note: Changes to regulatory speed limits are being considered and have not been formally proposed at this time. The City has not yet committed to a course of action on this initiative and implementation of these potential options are subject to Council approval at the dates listed above.


The City of Whitehorse is exploring potential options to change speed limits in the Downtown Whitehorse area. Speed limit changes are being considered for Downtown Whitehorse for the following reasons:

  • Reducing speed limits:
    • reduces severe crashes.
    • increases field of vision for drivers so that a typical driver can more easily perceive and react to moving objects in the road environment.
    • shortens stopping distances so that a typical driver can perceive, react, and come to a safe stop.
  • Research, evidence, and case studies show that there are significant road safety benefits from changing speed limits to an appropiate "safe speed" including:
    • Reduction in high-end speeding.
    • Reduction in collisions, particularly those that result in severe life-altering injuries and fatalities.
  • Changing speed limits is low cost and easily implementable.
  • Speed limit changes are needed to align Downtown roadways with their intended function and purpose.
  • Prioritizes safety and enjoyment of Downtown Whitehorse for all road users including pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and drivers. 

Note: In addition to changing speed limits in downtown, the City is considering a range of other potential road safety improvements for downtown and the entire city in the pending Citywide Transportation Study.

The speed limit changes being considered are:

  • 40 km/hr on major arterial roadways:
    • 2nd Ave from Two Mile Hill Rd/4th Ave to Lewes Blvd.
    • 4th Ave from 2nd Ave to Robert Service Way.
    • Robert Service Way from 2nd Ave to 4th Ave.
  • 30 km/hr on all side streets in the Downtown Whitehorse area.
  • Existing school and playground zones remain unchanged.


The Safe Speeds Downtown initiative was initiated following Whitehorse City Council’s review of recommendations for enhancements to Second Avenue. This street is a major roadway through Downtown Whitehorse where traffic safety issues have resulted in fatalities and serious injuries. A study submitted by Stantec to the City of Whitehorse in 2019 recommended adopting a complete street approach to not only mitigate the safety issues, but also enhance the public realm of this major corridor.

Following the presentation of these recommendations for Second Avenue to City Council, Administration was tasked with exploring safety interventions that would benefit the entire Downtown area. With several cities in North America setting lower speed limits, Council was interested in understanding the safety benefits of reduced speed limits in Downtown Whitehorse.

This initiative resulted in the development of the Memorandum on Safety Interventions and Downtown Speed Reductions. This memorandum provides:

  • Background information on the relationship between motor vehicle speeds and traffic safety.
  • Methods for setting speed limits.
  • A summary of existing literature and case studies to document the effectiveness and benefits of lowering speed limits.
  • Role and effectiveness of enforcement strategies.
  • A localized implementation plan for the Downtown Whitehorse context that takes into account the background information, methods for setting speed limits, and existing literature and case studies.
  • An opinion of probable costs for implementation.


2nd Avenue Corridor Traffic Study

Memorandum on Safety Interventions and Downtown Speed Reduction



If you would like to provide comments about this initiative, please send an email to:

Comments sent to this email address will be distributed to the project team for information and consideration but will not receive a response.

If you have questions or concerns or would like to discuss this initiatve in detail, we ask that you call one of the project team members below.

Who's listening

Project Lead

Stefan Baer, E.I.T.
Transportation Engineer-in-Training | Engineering Services
+1 (867) 689 4776

Taylor Eshpeter, P.Eng
Manager | Engineering Services
+1 (867) 689 2143

Expand/Contract Questions and Answers

  • I frequently drive in Downtown. How will driving travel times be impacted?

  • I frequently use transit in Downtown. How will transit services be impacted?

  • I frequently cycle in Downtown. How will this impact cycling?

  • I frequently walk in Downtown. How will this impact walking?

  • Is lowering speed limits a substitute for redesigning the roadway?

  • Why is the City considering 40 km/hr on major arterial roadways and 30 km/hr on side streets?

  • How are the speed limit changes being considered set?

  • Will this result in more congestion (lower traffic flow)?

  • How will the considered speed limits be enforced?

  • Does changing speed limits actually help road safety?

  • What about major transportation planning considerations: one-way streets in Downtown, a second bridge to Riverdale, no left turns, advance left turn signals, protected left turn bays, etc.?

  • What about other enforcement measures: cameras, radars, automated enforcement, etc?

  • What about other road safety issues: aggressive driving, red-light running, jaywalking, etc.?

  • What are the experiences of other cities with regards to speed limit reductions?

  • Why are changes in speed limits only being considered for Downtown and not being considered for other areas of the City?

  • Why do the speed limits being considered include so much signage?

  • Why is the City considering changing speed limits in Downtown?

  • Why is the City not considering retaining and enforcing existing speed limits?