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A big change to signage for school and playground zones around Calgary was implemented on Sept. 1, 2014. The speed limit is still 30 km/h maximum, but the hours and days in effect have changed.
The City of Calgary has implemented extended school and playground zone hours. Both are now in effect from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the hope that the consistency between the two will help reduce confusion about the times. Previously, school zones were in effect from 8 a.m.to 5 p.m., and playground zones from 8 a.m. to one hour after sundown, and there were concerns and misunderstandings associated with both. “One hour after sunset” was hard to define, 5 p.m. was too early to allow traffic to speed up around schools and 8 a.m. was too late for playground and school zones to start.
Remember that playground and school zone times are posted using the 24-hour clock, or “military time”. To translate military time into “normal” time, simply minus 12 from the number presented. So 9 p.m. will be represented by 21:00. The designated zones are in effect for 14.5 hours a day. If you see an older sign that missed replacement, you cannot rely upon what may be posted upon it. If you see an old sign, please report it through the city’s 311Online reporting form.
Playground zones are in effect 365 days a year, but school zones are only in effect on school days. This is important because Calgary has several schools holding classes year-round. Schools with year-round classes will have signage depicting such, and drivers should always pay close attention no matter what time of year it is.
Your safest course is also the most reasonable one. In any such zone where children may be present, always be extra cautious. Children do not perceive time and distance as well as adults, and subsequently speed, the same way adults do. Most children, especially on dark winter morning snow routes, or long twilight summer evenings, also haven’t the slightest notion as to whether it is 7:15AM or 21:15 at night.
Remember as well that it is also illegal to pass in these zones, illegal to double park, and a violation to park in bus zones or to park too close to crosswalks so as to obscure the vision of other drivers.
By presuming the zone is active all year and all hours, you will never run afoul of breaking this particular law. Most of the zones are relatively short stretches of road and are clearly end marked by another sign. Remember to be a calm driver, and keep your passengers under control at all times. Your full concentration as a driver is the law.