Residential 25 mph speed limit ‘not enforceable’

John Sharp reports on the State of Illinois’ ruinous ruling on Peoria‘s plans to lower the speed limit on all residential streets to 25 miles per hour.  City officials, residents and business owners wanted the speed limit lowered to make it safer to walk, thus promoting pedestrian activity.  The state, however, who requires that all local streets have a speed limit of 30 mph, said that a city-wide limit of 25 mph “was not enforceable.”  Their argument probably stems from the fact that people often don’t pay attention to speed limit signs, they just drive at whatever speed they feel safe.  With wide, treeless roads in our country’s subdivisions that were designed so that a drunk going 50 mph wouldn’t get into an accident, even our local streets are often unsafe for pedestrians.  So in Peoria’s case, the speed limit change would have to be one step of many: they would have to start allowing on-street parking; narrow their roads and widen their sidewalks; add trees, benches and other pedestrian amenities to attract walkers; and create a mix of uses so that people actually live within walking distance of something worth walking to.  But they are trying desperately to take that first step, and some people aren’t stepping down.  From Sharp’s article:

[Traffic engineer Nick] Stoffer said the only way to move ahead with changing the residential streets at once is to have a change of the speed limit on the state level. He said the city could approach the Illinois Municipal League to seek support in having the speed limits reduced on a statewide level to 25 mph.

If you live in or near Peoria, call the Public Works Department at 494-8800.  If you live somewhere else in Illinois, or are just interested in making your street more pedestrian friendly, contact your local representative and let them know that you want safer streets with lower speed limits for cars.

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