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Denver neighborhood speed limit could drop to 20 mph

The City Council's safety committee recommended the change in the default speed limit as part of the Vision Zero project.

DENVER — A City Council committee on Wednesday voted unanimously in support of a proposed ordinance that would decrease the city's default speed limit to 20 mph.

The Safety, Housing, Education & Homeless Committee voted 6-0 on the proposed ordinance, which is aimed at lowering the speed limit on neighborhood streets from 25 mph to 20 mph. The ordinance will now go to the full City Council for a vote.

The proposal is part of the Denver Vision Zero Project, which Mayor Michael Hancock announced in 2016. The project's goal is to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries on Denver’s roadways by 2030. As of Dec. 2, Denver has had 77 traffic fatalities this year.

RELATED: Denver ceremony remembers people killed on roadways in 2021

“We’re moving in the wrong direction,” said Council Member Paul Kashmann, who presented the proposal at the committee's meeting on Wednesday.

Kashmann said that there's no silver bullet to reducing injury crashes but that this ordinance would start a change in mindset that "we just need to slow down."

The proposed ordinance would change the city's default speed limit, which applies to streets where no speed limit is posted. That's mostly on neighborhood streets that have no center line.

Kashmann said that when residents complain about vehicle speeds in their neighborhoods, Denver Police (DPD) find that most drivers are within a mile or two of the posted speed limit.

“Neighbors think that the existing speed limit feels unsafe," he said.

If the City Council passes the ordinance, the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) would also lower the speed limit to 20 mph on neighborhood streets that have signage, to maintain consistency.

The proposal also calls for decreasing the posted speed limit in parks to 15 mph from 20 mph.

Implementation of the ordinance and posting new signs would cost about $1.2 million to $1.4 million.

"Reducing the default speed limit is a simple action that City Council can take to immediately make our streets safer for everyone," said Jill Locantore, executive director of Denver Streets Partnership, during public comment at the meeting.

DPD Division Chief Ron Thomas said that police would primarily focus on educating drivers, rather than devoting resources to enforcement.

RELATED: Denver's default speed limit could decrease to 20 mph to help avoid pedestrian crashes

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