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Seattle mayor supports bill to lower speed limits

A revolutionary new idea is in the legislative hopper to improve roadway safety and reduce the number of deaths on the streets of Seattle and other cities.

It's so controversial that drivers are sure to revolt. A bill ready for introduction in the state House would make it easier for cities and counties to reduce the speed limit on residential streets and in business districts.

For example, the speed limit on non-arterial roads could be cut from 25 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour.

According to KOMO-TV, it's an idea that Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is pushing to improve safety for bicycle riders, but it's considered a safety measure for drivers and pedestrians, too.

House Bill 1217 would allow municipalities to set a lower, 20 miles per hour speed limit without jumping through a lot of bureaucratic hoops. Right now, lowering a speed limit requires time-consuming and expensive engineering studies.

The rationale, according to bicycle advocates and others, is simple statistics and physics. Statistics provided by the Bicycle Alliance of Washington indicate that a car traveling at 40 miles per hour will hit a pedestrian with four-times the force of a car traveling at 20 miles per hour. At 20 miles per hour, the chance of death in a crash with a car is about five percent.

Of course, the impetus for this legislative change is a rash of fatal bicycle crashes in the Seattle area in the last few months. The crashes prompted Mayor Mike McGinn to call for a road safety summit in Seattle which is scheduled for next Monday night, Oct 24, at City Hall.

About the Author

Tim Haeck is a news reporter with KIRO Radio. While Tim is one of our go-to, no-nonsense reporters, he also has a sensationally dry sense of humor and it will surprise some to learn he is a weekend warrior.

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