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Speed Lowered in Columbia, MO

April 15, 2010

In Europe, some cities are adopting “20 mph Zones” to reduce pedestrian injuries. They’re also finding lowering speeds increases economic activity. Until recently, no known U.S. jurisdiction has implemented 20 mph zones. However, an America Walks member group, the PedNet Coalition in Columbia, Missouri, showed a low-cost way to achieve lower residential street speeds.  The group had sought to convince its city council to lower speed limits on local streets.  For decades, city traffic engineers had refused such requests, claiming the effort was futile. 

Seeking to show a 20 mph zone could be achieved, the PedNet group teamed with researchers from the University of Missouri and volunteers to conduct an education campaign in two selected neighborhoods, and then installed special signs to limit speeding on residential streets.  They gave presentations at schools and other gatherings, and volunteers went door to door explaining the project.  They left an educational door-hanger where they found no one at home.  Before and after speed studies showed the approach worked, and the city has subsequently begun work on an ordinance to lower residential street speed limits to 25 mph.  Not quite 20mph, but getting closer!