Transportation Planning Projects

The 2019 Transportation Master Plan (TMP) Update is underway! Participate in our Question of the Month, and check back here for future opportunities to share your feedback and shape the 2019 TMP Update.

The 2019 Transportation Master Plan (TMP) Update is underway! Participate in our Question of the Month, and check back here for future opportunities to share your feedback and shape the 2019 TMP Update.

Question of the Month: Speed Limits

In Boulder, crashes that involve people traveling over the speed limit have been increasing since 2014. From 2015 to 2017, 19% of all severe crashes (those that resulted in serious injury or fatality) involved speeding.* Speeding is a serious problem and can lead to immense and permanent impacts to our community members.

We know that pedestrians are more likely to survive being hit by a vehicle if the vehicle is traveling at a slower speed:

9 out of 10 pedestrians survive after being hit by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph; 5 out of 10 survive when the vehicle is going 30 mph; 1 out 10 survive when the vehicle is going 40 mph.

Communities sometimes choose to lower speed limits seeking to address this problem. Boulder has lowered speed limits in a few areas of town—in the core downtown area, on Baseline west of Broadway and in North Boulder, for example.

Unfortunately, lowering the speed limit—even with increased enforcement—does not usually result in slower vehicle speeds. For example, the city changed the speed limit on Baseline west of Broadway from 30 mph to 25 mph in late 2017. Despite extensive photo speed limit enforcement that has resulted in more than 4,000 violations, the city has not found evidence that vehicle speeds are decreasing.

Instead, street design is shown to be more effective at lowering vehicle speeds. The width of the roadway and travel lanes, presence of speed humps and traffic circles, and number of lanes influence travelers to drive faster or slower. The city’s Neighborhood Speed Management Program is one way the city is changing street design to lower speeds on residential streets.

Additionally, many of the streets in Boulder that have the most speed-related crashes are also state highways under the jurisdiction of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). The state highways in Boulder currently have speed limits that are under the state speed limits, and lowering the speed limits further on state highways is unlikely.

*More information on crash data and the impact of speeding on crash severity can be found at: www.bouldercolorado.gov/transportation/safe-streets-boulder.

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Given this information, what is the likelihood that you would support lowering the speed limit without changing the street design on all streets throughout Boulder?
What is the likelihood that you would support lowering vehicle speeds by changing the street design in conjunction with setting lower speed limits on specific streets in Boulder?
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