SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, May 10, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to change the standard speed limit on city streets to 20 mph unless otherwise posted.
The change is part of the city’s Sweet Streets initiative, which takes a people-first approach to streets and public spaces.
City officials say enforcing a 20 mph speed limit on streets where people live, work, play, shop, attend school or worship can save lives while promoting walking, biking and transit.
All existing 25 mph signs will need to be replaced, which city officials estimate will cost $100,000.
The city’s previous 25 mph speed limit “promotes dangerously high speeds in neighborhoods filled with people walking their dogs, children walking to school and people commuting by bike,” according to a petition on the Sweet Streets website. “The city also often allows speeds that are high enough to all but ensure death or serious injury in a crash, even on streets where it is likely for people to be in the street among moving vehicles.”
Supporters of the change say setting a default 20 mph speed limit on neighborhood streets would have very little impact on travel times but make a huge difference in public safety and livability.
City officials noted that 4% of crashes in Salt Lake involve bicycles and pedestrians, but those crashes make up 46% of fatal accidents.
More than 36,000 people were killed in traffic crashes in the U.S. in 2019, making it the leading cause of death for children ages 5-14, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
Portland State University found that the number of people driving faster than 30 mph and above declined significantly in Portland after the City Council there adopted a 20 mph speed limit in 2018.