The Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill (HB 1045) passed the State House today 86-10.
With its Senate companion bill (SB 5066) passing the Transportation Committee unanimously earlier this month, things are looking good for the humble 20 mph neighborhood street bill.
The bill has strong bipartisan support. Not only that, but three Republicans who voted against the bill in the House Transportation Committee—Norm Johnson, Linda Kochmar and Dan Kristiansen—changed their votes to yes during the full House vote.
But, of course, this is not the time to look away. Anything could happen. The bill was very popular in both chambers last year, as well. But it languished on the Senate floor as the legislative body devolved into a standstill over unrelated issues.
The broad appeal of the bill reaches well beyond the big cities to neighborhoods in cities and towns across the state. The bill would not directly change speed limits, but it would allow municipalities to choose to lower speeds on side streets (not major commercial streets and highways) without the need for costly and time-consuming traffic studies which would inevitably find no significant impact since the streets in question are not major thoroughfares.
Speeds on such streets are most often 25 mph today. Studies show that a person struck by a car going 30 miles per hour has a 40 percent chance of dying. When the speed drops to 20 mph, the chance of dying drops to 5 percent. So while a few mph might seem like a small safety gain, it can actually be the difference between life and death.
If you are curious about which streets the law would apply to, go to Google Maps. In general, streets that are yellow do not apply (I’m sure there are some exceptions to this, but it’s a good ballpark idea).
UPDATE: Here’s how BikeWA’s Blake Trask describes the bill:
“The Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill applies to non-arterial roadways as they are classified in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and by local jurisdictions. We all know these types of streets because they crisscross the neighborhoods where we live and play. This legislation does not affect state highways or interstates. In fact, state law clearly notes that highways are arterials. Arterials in Seattle are clearly classified by the city and range from Fauntleroy Way SW, Beacon Ave S, and 40th Ave NE. Typically, the de facto non-arterial speed is 25 miles per hour, so if a city or town chose to use this law it would result in a reduction in speed maximums from 25 to 20 miles per hour. While this seems like a small reduction in speed, the difference is huge if you get hit by a car or truck.”
Good job everyone pushing for the bill and all of you who wrote legislators to make it clear this is a priority for you. Stay tuned for more action alerts to get it the same priority in the Senate.