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Salt Lake City Council votes to lower speed limit to 20 on most residential streets

Posted at 10:26 PM, May 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 00:36:49-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Council has passed an ordinance to lower the speed limit on the majority of the city's residential streets.

In Tuesday night's meeting, the council voted unanimously to lower the speed limit to 20 miles per hour on "all streets unless otherwise posted."

City officials say this will help save lives.

"Statistics show that if you're hit by a car walking at 20 miles an hour, the odds of being killed are about 7 percent," said Jon Larsen, the city's transportation director, "But that it increases exponentially at 30 miles an hour. It's about 50/50. So just that 10-mile-an-hour difference would save a lot of lives."

This comes one week after 24-year-old Libbie Isabel Allan was hit and killed by a suspected drunk driver on 1700 South near 900 East. She was five months pregnant with her second child, and her 2-year-old daughter was critically injured. That same week also saw a string of deadly crashes, with other pedestrians and cyclists being hit and killed by vehicles.

Sweet Streets Salt Lake City, a group that aims to change "land-use and transportation from auto-dependency to people-first," thanked the council for the decision but said there is still more work to be done to "address the bulk of traffic violence."

A press release from the organization said the ordinance will change the speed limit to 20 on streets currently posted at 25. While they said this will impact 75 percent of the city's streets, Sweet Streets said the roads that account for "the majority of traffic violence in Salt Lake" will not be affected.

"We are grateful for the responsiveness and thoughtfulness of the council on this issue. We hope this will be a watershed moment for other municipalities to model and adopt in Utah. However, the work is not yet done," Sweet Streets board member Alex Cragun said. "Streets whose design and speed have resulted in several preventable deaths and injuries over the last two years and will still continue to be an issue."

Sweet Streets has long advocated for a reduction in speed limits with its "20 is Plenty" campaign.

The press release continued, in part: "The Utah Department of Transportation designs dangerous roads and then blames drivers for the injuries and deaths that follow. We are asking for solutions, not empty paternalistic blame... We encourage the city to continue to work with residents to reduce speeds on more streets in Salt Lake City. We are demanding that UDOT take more concrete actions outside of education and blame."

Full city council meeting: