US capital to cut speed limit on residential streets to 32kph

By REUTERS | 30 May 2020

WASHINGTON: The mayor of the US capital said Friday Washington D.C. will reduce the speed limit on most local city streets by 20% to 20mph (32kph) starting June 1 in a bid to reduce pedestrian deaths.

Washington mayor Muriel Bowser said lowering the default speed limit from 25mph (40kph) to 20 mph will help boost the survivability of traffic crashes and noted speeding had increased on emptier roads as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The district also plans to restrict roads with heavy foot and bicycle traffic to local traffic only and reduce speed limits to 15 miles per hour.

Other US cities have reduced speed limits on residential roads. In March, Minneapolis and St Paul, Minnesota lowered speed limits on residential streets to 20mph, while Portland, Oregon took the same step last year. Other cities including Boston are pursuing a 20mph residential speed limit.

Deaths of pedestrians have jumped by 42% in the last decade even as the combined number of all other traffic deaths has fallen by 8%. Pedestrian deaths rose 3.4% to 6,283 in 2018, the highest number since 1990. Preliminary US data showed pedestrian deaths fell by 2% in 2019.