Washington, D.C., will cut speed limit on residential streets to 20 mph

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The mayor of the U.S. capital said Friday Washington D.C. will reduce the speed limit on most local city streets by 20% to 20 miles per hour starting June 1 in a bid to reduce pedestrian deaths.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said lowering the default speed limit from 25 mph to 20 mph will help boost the survivability of traffic crashes and noted speeding had increased on emptier roads as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The district also plans to restrict roads with heavy foot and bicycle traffic to local traffic only and reduce speed limits to 15 miles per hour.

Other U.S. cities have reduced speed limits on residential roads. In March, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota lowered speed limits on residential streets to 20 mph, while Portland, Oregon took the same step last year. Other cities including Boston are pursuing a 20 mph residential speed limit.

Deaths of pedestrians have jumped by 42% in the last decade even as the combined number of all other traffic deaths has fallen by 8%. Pedestrian deaths rose 3.4% to 6,283 in 2018, the highest number since 1990. Preliminary U.S. data says pedestrian deaths fell by 2% in 2019.

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Diane Craft