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Snohomish intends to lower speeds to 20 mph, including on arterials

City of Snohomish graphic

A map of the streets (marked in green) proposed to be reduced to 20 mph.

SNOHOMISH — Most City Council members have said they support a proposal to reduce speed limits to 20 mph across the main core of the city, including some arterial roads.
These arterials include Second Street, Avenue D, Avenue A, Fourth Street, Maple, Pine, Lincoln and part of Park Avenue.
A uniform 20 mph zone is proposed for a footprint bounded approximately from First Street north to 13th Street, and from Avenue J to Mill Avenue.
Council members Donna Ray, Judith Kuleta and Tom Merrill said last week they are fully in favor. Councilman Steve Dana favors some, but not all of the proposal: He spoke against altering speeds on the arterials as lacking common sense. These roads carry the most traffic, unlike neighborhood streets, he noted.
The City Council will be asked to vote on setting 20 mph limits to make it official; a near-majority has already indicated they’d say yes.
The reduction zone excludes faster roads such as Bickford Avenue.
Addressing speeding is one of the most common issues residents raise to City Hall, Mayor John Kartak said.
City officials said that one thought to the idea is lowering speed limits to 20 mph might cause drivers to think twice about exceeding 30 mph on the same roads.
Second Street business owners Kartak surveyed had mixed feelings, the mayor said. Those in support pinpointed that cars don’t always stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. Additionally, slower speeds might get people to stop by roadside businesses more often.
Driver studies on field of vision back up some of these concerns: At 15 mph, drivers look more immediately at what’s in front of them versus at 30 mph. At 30 mph, drivers focus their eyes further ahead of them, information from state crash reduction agencies says.
Pedestrian fatality studies say that 9 out of 10 people survive being hit by a car going 20 mph, but the chances of survival drop to 5 out of 10 if a car going 30 mph hits you, according to 1990s data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration utilized by Vision Zero Seattle. The same data showed most collisions are at slower speeds, presumably because the driver slams the brakes when they see they’ll hit a pedestrian.
Not every driver sees they’re going to hit a person, though.
Kuleta said at the council meeting that she is “100 percent in support” of reducing speeds for pedestrian safety.
“These areas — Avenue A, Maple — these are residential districts with trails, bicyclists (and) families,” Kuleta said.
Public comments at the May 18 council meeting all supported the 20 mph plan.



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