San Francisco to study lowering speed limits


San Francisco is taking a look at whether lowering speed limits in The City will help make the streets safer for pedestrians.

Paris Mayor Anne Hildalgo is pursuing lower speed limits to 30 kilometers per hour (about 19 miles per hour) and New York officials approved lowering the default speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour.

So why not San Francisco, said Supervisor Eric Mar.

Mar introduced a resolution asking the budget and legislative analyst to study the impacts of lowing the speed limit in the City on Tuesday:

“It’s about making San Francisco safer for everyone everyday. Cities around the globe, not just Paris, are beginning to lower speed limits on city streets to 20 miles per hour in an effort to reduce accidents.”

The study would include the number the lives that could possibly be saved by lowing speed limits 5 to 10 miles per hour, financial and environmental savings from speed reductions, and how other cities are doing that have lowered their speed limits.

Mar said that studies have shown that speed is a big factor in the severity of pedestrian collisions with vehicles:

“Pedestrians being struck by a car traveling for example 20 miles per hour have a 95 percent chance of survival. At just 40 miles per hour only 15 percent of people hit by cars survive.”

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors has already taken action earlier this month by lowering the speed limit on Sunset Boulevard from 35 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour between Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Lake Merced Boulevard. The reduction in speed has not gone into effect yet, according to a SFMTA spokesman.

San Francisco had 21 pedestrian deaths last year, which spurred the City to adopt Vision Zero, which calls for zero pedestrian deaths by 2024.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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