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Activists want SLC residential speed limits to be lowered to 20 MPH

May 26, 2021, 6:23 PM | Updated: 8:26 pm
Residential Speed Limits...
(Photo Credit: Canva)
(Photo Credit: Canva)

SALT LAKE CITY – An activist group wants all of Salt Lake City’s residential streets to have default speed limits of 20 miles per hour.

According to the city, “The speed limit on all residential streets in the Unincorporated County is 25 mph unless otherwise posted.”

Campaign to lower residential speed limits

 

The co-founder of the group Street Sweets, Myron Willson, believes reducing the speed will help protect people.

“When speed gets above 20 miles per hour then people are much more vulnerable to serious injury and death,” Willson told KSL NewsRadio. 

They’re hoping the city will flip the switch on the residential speed limits, and look long term at slowing down the city’s streets.

“Administratively they have the power to do that, we think this is a little bit of a political issue so it may need city council or mayoral support,” Willson said. “We’re trying to provide advocacy to help make that decision.”

Willson also said he recognized this might be a long-term goal. He said the group also wants the city to make it a priority to rebuild streets with not just cars in mind. 

“Whenever they do redesigns of streets, make them so it encourages people to slow down,” he said.

Can the city just lower the speed limits?

According to Salt Lake City’s Director of Transportation, Jon Larsen, he does technically have the power to change speed limits on individual streets. But to do a city-wide change he would need to change the city ordinance, and that approval would need to come from the City Council.

But Larsen said he supports slowing traffic down.

“I think anything to slow people down in our neighborhoods is a good thing because it’s a major quality of life thing,” Larsen said. “It’s a conversation worth having. And let’s see where it goes,” he said.

Larsen, also thinks changing the ordinance would send an important message from the city, however, he’s not convinced lowering the speed alone would actually slow people down.

“Just changing the speed limit doesn’t actually do that much as far as changing behavior,” he said.

“For it to really have the impact we want it needs to be coupled with a program that actually would go through and systematically change – you know, retrofit the design of the street in order to encourage people to slow down,” Larsen explained.   

Larsen said the City Council has made it clear they see this as an important issue. But he said the question is what is the right approach. Namely, he mentioned staff and funding as an issue.

He said a proposed traffic-calming plan is set to be presented to the City Council in July, with a potential name of ‘Livable Streets’.

“All I can promise at this point is that we’ll have the conversation and see where it goes,” he said.

According to Larsen, the city is also working on updating its master transportation plan which he said will take years before it’s complete.

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Activists want SLC residential speed limits to be lowered to 20 MPH