UPDATE: Some of Capitol Hill’s busiest streets are poised to get a 5 MPH speed limit reduction as part of a larger speed reduction proposal announced by city officials Tuesday. Speed limits on Capitol Hill’s arterial streets would be reduced from 30 MPH to 25 MPH, which includes E Pike, E Pine, Broadway, Madison, E Union, 15th, 12th, and Bellevue among others.
Seattle officials announced speeds on all residential streets would be reduced from 25 MPH to 20 MPH — the same speed limit as school zones, which will remain unchanged. Officials said that slowing vehicles down by even 5 MPH can be significant in improving survival rates in collisions.
“Speed kills,” said Council member Tim Burgess during a media event outside the Horizon House on First Hill. The City Council’s transportation committee is slated to take up the legislation on September 20th.
Council member Mike O’Brien, who chairs the City Council’s transportation committee, said he was confident the speed change legislation would be approved by City Council within a month. Once the legislation is passed, around 500 new speed limit signs will be installed at $200-$300 per sign. The city would then enter a warning period before police officers begin enforcing the new speeds. The move is part of Mayor Ed Murray’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths by 2030.
Seattle Department of Transportation director Scott Kubly said vehicle travel times should only increase by a couple minutes.
O’Brien said the change was not meant to discourage people from using cars, but to encourage people to walk or bike. “Today I know there are people that want to walk more or bike more in the city, but they don’t feel safe doing it,” he said.
Arterial street speed limit reductions will eventually be proposed for outside the city center area, Kubly said.
Original report: Five out of ten pedestrians will survive getting struck by a vehicle traveling 30 MPH. That jumps to nine of ten when the vehicle is traveling 20 MPH. In an effort to completely eliminate traffic-related fatalities in Seattle, City officials are planning to reduce speed limits on all residential and arterial streets across the city.
Survivors of pedestrian-vehicle collisions will join City Council members and transit officials Tuesday afternoon on First Hill to announce the speed reductions. Capitol Hill has several well documented hotspots for pedestrian-vehicle collisions.
Seattle’s current speed limit on residential streets is 25 MPH and 30 MPH on arterial streets unless otherwise posted.
Downtown was the first area that was supposed to see speed reductions as part of the plan announced last year. At the time, officials promised a “data-driven approach” to determine which routes are most in need of new measures. The simplest will be lowering speed limits.
Pedestrians have a much better chance to survive when vehicles are traveling at lower speeds and drivers have more time to see and react to other road users. By reviewing and changing our speed limits when appropriate, we can create consistent speed limits on our arterial streets, improve safety for everyone and reduce the severity of all collisions.