City council decides to slow its roll on 20 mph changes

City considers pilot programs, or other methods, than a large rollout

Council is going to slow down the process of changing the city speed limit to 20 mph, and review more options before making a final decision.

Councilmembers Don Persson, Ruth Pérez and Randy Corman expressed interest in changing the whole city to the lower limit after approving the La Crosse Neighborhood speed limit to 20 mph at the May 20 transportation meeting.

Councilmember Corman then told staff at the June 3 transportation meeting he wants to allow the public and other councilmembers to have input, after receiving mixed opinions from folks on the change.

The decision on May 20 wasn’t a good answer for the many residential roads where he thinks it should stay 25 mph, Corman said, adding he was concerned it would result in noncompliance from safe drivers.

“Inside the transportation meeting, we had jumped to too simple of an answer that, upon reflection, I thought would have unintended consequences,” he said.

One concern at the May 20 transportation meeting was that neighborhoods have to endure a long process to opt-in to 20 mph zones.

Renton Transportation Director Jim Seitz said it would be possible for staff to either go neighborhood-by-neighborhood or through the full city at a similar pace, depending on the council’s decision.

Seitz said it might be quicker to do a few neighborhoods as a pilot program, especially considering how few examples there are around the country of how to implement this. Seattle is one of the few major cities to do this, and just recently reported its findings.

At the June 3 meeting, staff who were present agreed with Corman. Factoring in the several ways to implement this project and financial considerations, staff told the committee they would like to come back to the transportation meeting with a presentation on their findings.

Corman said he hopes to possibly host public meetings and encourage folks to send emails with suggestions or opinions on implementing 20 mph zones.

The matter will be referred back to transportation committee, instead of bringing a full ordinance to council.

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