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City of Seattle

October 18, 2:56 PM click here to comment > 16

Thoughts on recent reports regarding speed limits in Seattle

There have been several recent reports on the mayor’s stance regarding speed limits on Seattle streets, including a headline “McGinn proposes lower speed limits to protect cyclists.”

  • The City did sign-in in support of HB 1217, a bill that would authorize local authorities to establish maximum speed limits on certain nonarterial roads, during the previous legislative session.
  • The bill was co-sponsored by many members of our Seattle delegation: Representatives Pedersen, Kenney, Santos, and Fitzgibbon.
  • This bill passed the State House 92-0 last session and was supported by a group of bipartisan representatives from across the state.
  • Several Seattle City Council members asked our Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to support the legislation.
  • And support for this measure is currently in our draft legislative agenda for the upcoming 2012 legislative session.

The recent reports give the incorrect impression that this is a new initiative proposed by the mayor for the Road Safety Summit. It is a long standing proposal and being driven by a broad collection of local elected officials and elected officials statewide. Our top priority for the Road Safety Summit is to hear from the public about what we can do better as a community to support safety for everyone who uses our streets.  That community input will form the basis for any new road safety proposals.

The reports also leave the impression that new speed limits would apply to arterials. There is no current proposal to reduce speed limits on arterials.

We are holding a Road Safety Summit in the coming few weeks. We hope that you can help us with this Summit and become engaged in the effort to support safety for all users of our city streets. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts, suggestions and concerns with the mayor at


Posted by: Aaron Pickus, Spokesperson


Comment from Benjamin Hart
Time October 18, 2011 at 8:39 pm

As a vulnerable bicyclist, I support your effort to reduce speed limits. Please let Seattle residents know what we can do to support this sensible idea! Thank you.

Comment from Jake Jackson
Time October 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Once again, this mayor strikes out. State law requires an engineering study to cut a speed limit below 30 mph. The methodology is standardized throughout the United States, and 100 are performed every week in Washington State.

The bill that our foolish mayor supports would have thrown out this time-tested methodology. It was rushed through the House without review, until it reached the Senate, where it was opposed by the Washington State Dept. of Transportation and the National Public Works Department Association.

The city has already erected advisory 20 mph caution signs in neighborhoods all over the city. There is no logical reason for this legislation, unless Mayor McGinn intend to play games, perhaps by redefining what they consider a “non-arterial” street.

If that sounds too cynical or paranoid, consider that Michael McGinn lied through his teeth with respect to the waterfront tunnel. Face it, the man and his cronies despise cars and motorists.

They will do everything they possibly can to make Seattle a nightmare for drivers, even if it means undermining state law and decades of accepted traffic engineering practice.

Mr. McGinn, you might think you can get away with this, but you’d better think again. We’re on to your tricks, and we’re not going to let it happen.

Comment from Frank
Time October 19, 2011 at 8:59 pm

I don’t agree that lowering speed limits will make people on bicycles safer. I think there needs to be a massive bike rider education effort and enforcement of driving laws to reduce the number of reckless bike riders. I see people on bikes cut across lanes, run stop signs, run red lights, cut off cars every day, expecting that cars should/will yield. Sometimes its only luck that they are not hit. If bike riders share the road with cars, they should also obey the same laws and be subject to the same penalties. That would be a good place to start to reducing auto versus bike accidents.

Comment from Hal Merrill
Time October 20, 2011 at 8:20 am

Reduced speed limits will help encourage more people to get out of their cars and bike to work. The most common objection I hear from people is that cycling is too dangerous.

Comment from timmy
Time October 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm


Comment from Jon Morgan
Time October 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm

The media gets it wrong again. Lower speeds protect pedestrians more than bikers. And EVERYONE is a pedestrian. A number of other states like Idaho already let their local governments set lower speeds on non-arterial roads without doing expensive studies. Your right to not die when walking is more important than the fractional minutes someone can save by speeding. We NEED this authority to make walking safer.

Comment from Anne
Time October 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I think it’s a good idea to lower speed limits in town around homes, businesses, and schools.

Engineering studies have their place, but I don’t think you need one in this case.

Engineering and public health data and research have documented (over and over again) that crashes and collisions involving slower speeds mean fewer deaths, less severe injuries, and less property damage.

It’s common sense that several tons of steel and plastic crashing into people or property, if moving at a slower speed, wreaks less havoc all around.

Hard to say what the effect would be on encouraging walking/cycling.

Comment from Chris Brown
Time October 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm

If you truly want to have an impact on traffic safety you must first identify the main effects and the interaction effects. Without that you are merely guessing.

As for further reducing speed limits what will happen to auto emissions? Or do you want to make Seattle a black city.

Comment from Elias
Time October 20, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Bicyclists will need education when they end up cycling 3000 pound bicycles.

It’s perfectly reasonable for neighborhood streets to have lower, safer speed limits. Not only for driver safety but for pedestrian safety, reducing noise and pollution.

Comment from Albee
Time October 20, 2011 at 4:49 pm

@Hal Merrill:

LMAO! I just went to your web site, where you’re pumping your book, “Survive With Little Or No Money”…for $13.97 at amazon! I guess you still need money, huh?

And for a guy who talks about reducing speed limits to get people out of their cars and onto bikes, you’re the ultimate hypocrite. Your site is replete with methods of repairing cars for people (mostly you) to drive!

“If you want to learn to do things like get cars for free or for almost no money and fix them up…then by all means check it out! Right here”

Yeah. And by all means check out your ’92 Corolla, and your ’89 Mazda 323. Don’t forget the Subaru engine you helped your neighbor swap out.

Reduced speed limits never gets anybody out of anything. They just piss off the people who drive those streets. So, unless you’re as big a fan of road rage as you are of fixing up and driving old cars, you might need to come up with a new game plan.

Comment from linda
Time October 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm

I’m fed up with all of this bicycle stuff. I work on Westlake Avenue, along Lake Union and although its good to get the bikers off the main street, they use the parking lot as a raceway. If I dare to back my car out and slow them down, I get the glares from hell.
They do not use neighborhood streets to commute.
I very carefully stay out of their GREEN boxes, just to have them weave in and out and run through red lights I have to wait for.
Keep up the outstanding work mayor. First, you messed up all the roads for vehicles, and now you want us all to drive in low gear. Tickets are what it’s all about. Do you know how hard it is to go 20mph? If you objective is to get us all out of our cars, well then, maybe you might want to arrange to pick me up from near the airport and transport me to and from daily to Lake Union.
How about it?

Comment from Kevin Carrabine
Time October 20, 2011 at 11:34 pm

@jake, et al

92-0 vote in state house for this bill. I suggest you talk to your legislative representative if you disagree with the intent of this bill.

Comment from Seattler
Time October 21, 2011 at 11:27 pm

@Kevin Carrabine, the bill got squashed in the Senate after the people who know anything about traffic engineering were alerted to it. If it comes around again, it will be squashed like a bug on the windshield of one of those evil cars you hate.

Cheers to you, buddy boy.

Comment from David Rogers
Time October 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Every one seems so antsy to have car drivers share the road with bicyclists. This is reasonable when bicyclists are compelled to share the expense of building and maintaining roads. And right now people on bicycles are zooming around city streets like THEY own them, ignoring State, County and City traffic regulations like they do not apply to them.
Test and license bicyclists Statewide. Any one 10 or older should have to prove they know the rules of the road before they venture out on to them to face those ton-and-a-half chunks of steel and plastic.
And then they should pay yearly to retain that privilage just like every one else who pays yearly to renew their tabs. “No More Free Rides”!

Comment from Umut
Time December 23, 2011 at 3:07 am

Agree. it will encourage people for biking.

Comment from sk
Time January 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I love the idea of more cyclists on streets and I commend people who take the effort to save our earth but they seriously need riding lessons. Too many of them treat the roads like it is there playground. If they want to share the road they need to follow the same rules which mean staying in the lane not squeezing between two lanes to get ahead of cars. And it is always car drivers that get the blame.