FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bill makes safer streets and neighborhoods by removing red tape and hurdles to reduce speeds on non-arterial streets.
Olympia, WA – Jan. 30, 2012 – Today, the Washington State House of Representatives passed the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill (SHB1217) unanimously.
The bill’s unanimous bipartisan support is mirrored by its backing from over 20 organizations, boards, and cities from across the state, including the Washington State PTA, AARP-Washington, as well as the cities of Spokane, Bellingham, Seattle and, Kirkland.
The Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill makes safer streets and neighborhoods by allowing cities and towns the authority to set speed limits to 20 miles per hour on non-arterial streets. It does not mandate any change, it simply provides cities and towns the authority to do so.
“Communities are asking lawmakers to give them more cost-saving tools and local options instead of mandates,” says, prime sponsor, Representative Cindy Ryu (D-32). “This bill will help. It removes an expensive state mandate that deters communities from lowering speed limits on non-arterial roads even when they recognize that lower speeds would make people safer or promote local businesses and jobs.”
Washington Bikes has worked closely with the Representative to develop and support the bill.
Current state law limits the ability of cities and towns to set maximum speed limits to 20 miles per hour by requiring an engineering and traffic study – which requires staff time and money to conduct – before cities and towns can create safer streets on non-arterial streets.
“The Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill, or similar legislation, provides Bellingham with an important safety tool, and does so by removing red tape. This bill will help us improve safety for Bellingham’s neighborhood streets by providing us with the freedom to set safe speeds without having to work around the current hurdles that state law imposes,” says Bellingham Councilmember Michael Lilliquist
This legislation is especially germane to more vulnerable populations, including children and the elderly. “Older pedestrians because of their increased fragility particularly benefit from low-speed environments,” wrote AARP-Washington in its letter of support for SHB 1217.
“The Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill is a win-win for Washingtonians statewide,” says Washington Bikes Executive Director Barbara Culp. “This is legislation that provides more local control over roadway safety, saves local government money by reducing administrative and staff requirements, and adds to the growing safety toolbox for cities and towns to create complete and healthy streets for residents and visitors alike.”
Following today’s successful House vote, the bill will now move to the Washington State Senate for consideration.