Minneapolis - St. Paul (March 12, 2020) -- The Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul announced today plans to lower speed limits to support safer streets. Slower speeds on local streets make travel safer for everyone no matter how you get around.
New speed limits will be 20 mph for local residential streets; 25 mph for larger, arterial city-owned streets; and 30-plus mph for a few city-owned streets. Per Minnesota law, cities do not have authority to change speed limits on county and MnDOT roads. Speed limits on these streets in Minneapolis and Saint Paul will not change.
Staff from both cities will begin to install or change more than 1,000 speed limit signs on city-owned streets in the coming months. New, lower 25 mph speed limits on individual streets will go into effect as soon as they are signed.
Once the busier streets are signed, the cities will then install “gateway signs” at entry points in both cities, indicating the citywide speed limit is 20 mph unless otherwise posted. Once the gateway signs are installed, the 20 mph speed limit on local residential streets will be in effect. The cities will generally not be posting 20 mph signs on local residential streets. The cities expect the sign installation to be completed by this fall.
The speed limit changes follow detailed technical studies done by the Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul Public Works departments, respectively, to determine appropriate local speed limits as required by state statute.
The lower speed limits are in line with national trends toward lower urban speed limits to support safety. Lower traffic speeds reduce the likelihood of a crash and make all types of crashes less likely to lead to death or a life-changing injury. A person hit at 35 mph is three times as likely to die as someone hit at 25 mph.
Reducing speed limits is one of the key strategies in the Minneapolis Vision Zero Action Plan, which outlines key steps for the next three years to advance the City’s goal of ending traffic deaths and injuries on City streets by 2027.
In 2019, Saint Paul adopted it’s first-ever Pedestrian Plan, which included a city legislative agenda of advocating for a statewide reduction in urban speeds. In addition, the city’s pedestrian plan strives to reduce pedestrians’ exposure to motor vehicles, lower street design speeds, and pursue changes in street designs that lower design speeds and reduce roadway crossing widths. Saint Paul’s Comprehensive Plan also includes a “Vision Zero” program with the long-term goal of achieving zero traffic fatalities and severe injuries.
“Smart transit policy lies at the intersection of bold leadership and data driven decisions,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “We know that by reducing speed limits, we can help make our streets safer for people who can’t afford cars, for kids who walk home from school and play in our streets — for everyone who uses our streets to get around. Today marks a major victory for the Twin Cities thanks to the collaborative effort from our Public Works teams and the local control granted by the state.”
“Ensuring our city streets work for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists is vital to the future of our city,” said Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “Lowering our speed limits helps us realize this vision, and will literally make our streets safer for all of us.”
“Over 100 people were killed or severely injured in traffic crashes last year in Minneapolis, that is unacceptable,” said Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender. “Eliminating traffic deaths is an achievable goal and lowering speed limits, a key strategy in the Vision Zero Action Plan, will make our streets safer for everyone.”
“Our neighborhoods and District Councils have asked for safer streets for many years,” said Saint Paul City Council President Amy Brendmoen. “We are becoming a more diverse city with diverse transportation needs. Lower speed limits safely bring our businesses and residents together, strengthening our Saint Paul community.”
“Ensuring the safety of everyone who moves around our city, by all modes, is a primary responsibility of municipal government,” said Minneapolis City Council Member Kevin Reich. “The ability to lower driving speeds on our streets is a powerful new tool that will jumpstart the implementation of our Vision Zero Action Plan and help us achieve a future of safer mobility for all.”
Lisa Hiebert, APR