Evanston aldermen approved reducing speed limits on three major streets Monday, but the idea of a city-wide speed reduction drew fresh opposition.
The City Council received a memo from Mark de la Vergne from city consultant Sam Schwartz Engineering saying that lower speed limits “have limited effectiveness on the actual speeds of drivers.”
He cited a report from a group called America Walks, which says “people generally drive as fast as they think is reasonable, based on the roadway environment, rather than obeying the posted speed limit.”
De la Vergne says Burlington, Vt., recently implemented a 25 mph speed limit, with a 20 mph limit downtown and exemptions for three main roads that kept their original 30 mph limit. But he said there’s no data available on the impact of the change on actual driving speeds.
And he says a Federal Highway Administration study from 20 years ago shows the average change in actual speeds when speed limits were increased or decreased was less than 1.5 mph.
During citizen comment, Jeff Smith, of 2724 Harrison St., said the average travel speed in Evanston now is only 10 to 15 miles an hour.
He said that the city already has too many traffic restrictions — too many stop signs and other controls.
He said the slow travel speeds are unhealthy for the economy, the environment and safety.
“Main streets should have higher speed limits and fewer stops than side streets,” Smith said, and the city should should start over and reduce the number of traffic controls, so Evanstonians can not only park, but also drive.
Aldermen had suggested last month that they wanted to consider a broader speed limit reduction in September.
The reductions to a 25 mile per hour limit were approved for:
- Chicago Avenue from Dempster Street to South Boulevard.
- Central Street from McDaniel to Central Park avenues.
- Oakton Street for its full length.
In addition aldermen voted to make Forest Avenue one way at Lincoln School during school arrival and departure hours and approved a new four-way stop sign at Michigan Avenue and Lee Street.