This new bill will give cities and towns the ability to adjust neighborhood speed limits in their jurisdictions lifting current state-law limitations making it difficult for them to do so.
providing a Flexible Way for Cities and Towns to Slow down Speeds
House Bill (HB) 1217, or the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill, would give cities and towns in Washington greater flexibility to set their own speed limits. Currently, these local jurisdictions are prohibited by state law to set speed limits lower than 25 miles per hour on non-arterial streets, unless they perform expensive and burdensome formal engineering studies. Idaho and British Columbia both allow this degree of local control in setting speed limits.
Localizing control over speed limits in residential neighborhoods, promotes safer communities, empowers communities to work together, aids local governments in improving conditions of roadways, and saves time and money by removing meddlesome red tape requirements. Slower speeds are safer: a pedestrian hit by a car traveling at 30 mph has a 45 percent chance of being killed; at 20 mph the fatality rate declines to only 5 percent. Lower speed limits can also encourage people to live healthier lives — safer streets will encourage people to walk, bike, and play outside in their neighborhoods.
Nothing in HB 1217 requires local officials to set lower speed limits; the bill would only give them them greater authority to tailor their speed limits to local conditions and preferences.
Looks like going into the January session that a variety of sized cities: Seattle, Spokane, Bellingham and Shoreline are in favor of this bill, whose primary sponsor is Representative Cindy Ryu. Supporting this bill supports local government empowerment, walkability, and healthier, safer communities.
A great way to support this bill is by attending Transportation Advocacy Day on January 31, 2012 in Olympia. Use your power as a citizen with a voice to support sustainable, safer transportation and RSVP to this free, all-day event.