One of the most interesting and promising legislative concepts this year is in House Bill 3150 and Senate Bill 344. It would permit cities to calm traffic and enact a residential speed limit 5 mph lower than currently posted. The goal is to create a 20 mph zone on certain residential streets.
We do this already, for example, with school zones, going from 25 mph to 20 mph.
The Federal Highway Administration notes that fatalities among people walking and struck by a car go from 40% to 5% when auto speed goes from 30 mph to 20 mph. 20 is a lot safer!
The City proposes to oppose the bills, nevertheless, and its reasons don't seem very public-spirited.
Passage of this bill would allow the City of Salem to set its own speed limits. However that would potentially create pressure on City staff and the City Council to set speeds based on citizen perception and not necessarily what the appropriate speed limit should be for a certain street. It could result in instances of "spot" speed zones or inconsistent application of speed limits within the City. In addition, it would create a potentially heavy workload for City traffic engineering staff and could involve a considerable amount of City Council time and energy in order to consider each speed limit ordinance. Staff recommends that the City oppose this bill, despite that it might give the City more authority, in order to sustain the objective and deliberate system in place currently.[italics added]With neighborhood associations looking for traffic calming, and with the updates to the City's walking and biking plans, this would seem to be an especially useful tool, and it's not clear why the City does not welcome it.
(For the rest of Council items, see here.)