Survey finds support for reduced speed limits

Published: Mar. 21, 2016 at 8:08 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:18 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A graduate student with the University of Arizona College of Public Health is taking a look at the public's opinion on whether or not a reduced speed limit would make the streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Krista Hansen worked with the city of Tucson Bicycle and Pedestrian program to gather data through an online survey taken by 1,560 people. Results were released on Monday, March 21.

"Several cities have lowered speed limits on bicycle boulevards to 20 miles per hour. There are a number of reasons to consider reducing speed limits on bicycle boulevards," Hansen said. "Most importantly, it is clear that lower speed limits save lives in the event of a crash."

A pedestrian has a nine out of 10 chance of surviving when hit by a vehicle traveling 20 mph.  However, a pedestrian only has a one out of 10 chance of surviving when hit by a vehicle traveling 40 mph.

Many people surveyed (63 percent) stated they would support a law that lowered vehicle speed limits to 20 miles per hour on certain residential streets. The same amount (63 percent) would also like the street outside their house to have a 20 mph speed limit.

While the majority of people surveyed (66 percent) personally felt safer biking or walking on streets with 20 mph speed limits and agreed that it would increase safety for all pedestrians and bicyclists.

Over half of the survey respondents (54 percent) agreed that 20 mph speed limits would encourage more people to walk or bike.

Other cities such as Portland, OR, and Seattle have passed legislation changing the speed limit on certain roads to 20 mph to make it safer for those walking and biking, according to Hansen.

Currently, the city of Tucson does not have the authority to post a 20 mph speed limit on residential streets. This would require a change to state law.

The survey results will be used to inform the city of Tucson about the community's opinion on speed limits for residential corridors that are enhanced and designated bicycle boulevards.

Two cyclists died on Tucson's northwest side on Thursday, March 3. Another cyclist was injured following a crash on the east side on Saturday, March 5. In 2015, the Tucson Police Department investigated 14 pedestrian deaths, and four cyclist deaths. 
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