City proposes reduction in speed limits to improve street safety

Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Mike O’Brien have unveiled a proposal to enhance safety on Seattle’s streets by changing the speed limit on all residential streets from 25 to 20 MPH and streets in the center city from 30 to 25 MPH.

The proposal is part of Seattle’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

“Having helped pass the Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill during my time in the legislature, I’m proud that Seattle will be the first city in the state of Washington to implement lower speeds on all residential streets,” said Mayor Ed Murray.

According to City data, speed contributes to 25 percent of collisions citywide and 42 percent of downtown traffic fatalities every year. Pedestrians struck by vehicles traveling at 25 MPH are half as likely to die as those struck at 30 MPH.

“Reducing speeds will not only reduce accidents and fatalities but it also brings peace of mind for those who use our sidewalks, including children and our elderly neighbors. The reduction we are proposing will not restrict mobility,” says Councilmember Tim Burgess.

In residential areas like Ballard, going down to 20 MPH brings the entire neighborhood to existing school zone speed limits, making safer routes of travel for all.

According to the City, vehicle safety in Seattle has improved significantly, but not for people walking and biking.

Pedestrian and bicycle collisions make up seven percent of total crashes, but nearly half of fatalities. The proposed new speed limit will apply to 2,400 miles of non-arterial streets and help enhance safe routes to schools, transit, parks and other destinations.

The City Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee will discuss and vote on the proposal at its September 20 meeting. The legislation will then go before the full council for a vote later this month.

If passed into law, the City expects to begin rolling out speed limit changes in November.

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