The speed limit on residential streets in Seattle is 25 mph. That’s not so bad, considering I have lived places where it is often much higher. But could it be better?
This Streetfilms video is about a movement in the UK to lower the speed limits in all residential areas to 20 mph. That extra five miles per hour in Seattle is significant. The odds of a pedestrian death from a vehicle traveling 20 mph is about 5 percent. Once that vehicle gets to 30 mph, the odds jump to around 40 percent. At 40 mph, your odds are a terrifying 85 percent. So 25 might be a good start, but getting down to 20 would be way better. The safety increases are dramatic, and the time added to vehicle trips is negligible.
Lowering the speed just 5 mph would also decrease conflicts between bikers and cars on residential streets. While not nearly as terrifying or prevalent as conflicts on faster arterials, bikes typically travel at least 10 mph under the residential speed limit, which causes the occasional conflict (in my experience, a car that just cannot wait and starts honking and revving the engine). If the speed limit were 20, my 10-15 mph speed would not seem all that slow. Though I’m sure the biggest jerks will still honk and otherwise harass bikers. But every little bit helps.
What are your thoughts on lowering the residential speed limit throughout the city?